Stay Safe: A guide to traveling during the pandemic

Travel plans have been put on hold for nearly a year now, and many are wondering when they will be able to finally take those trips they have been waiting for since vaccine distribution has begun. As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be administered to more Americans, many are anticipating a return to normalcy that includes the ability to travel again; however, that return may not come in the near future.

Vaccine distribution began back in December, and since then around 50.7  million Americans have received their first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, and 25.5 million have received their second dose at the time of press. Even though more Americans are being vaccinated everyday, it is currently unknown whether or not the vaccine can fully prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 vaccines’ efficacy was tested on whether or not symptoms could be reduced and if our bodies could build immunity to the virus. As of now, researchers understand that the vaccine can reduce symptoms of the virus and make us more immune to it, but they are still uncertain whether or not you can transmit the virus to those around you.

“It does take a while for the immune system to “learn” from the vaccine.  I have read it takes 2 weeks or so after the second shot to gain maximum protection which studies say is 95% effective.  With the introduction of new variants of the virus we should keep our eyes on that data to see how effective the vaccines will be. All in all, when in public and new surroundings it’s best to take reasonable precautions to protect your health as well as family and friends who are unable to get a vaccine” said biology teacher Kris Overcash.

Since there is a chance those who are vaccinated may still be a carrier, the CDC advises against traveling unless necessary. Traveling after you have received the vaccine may be safer than it is without it, but you may still be at risk of contracting or spreading it.

If you choose to travel, say by air, you are expected to show a negative COVID test before boarding. The CDC also suggests that if you are eligible to receive the vaccine that you receive it before traveling. If you have already received the necessary doses, it is encouraged that you wait several days before traveling so that you let your body become accustomed to the vaccine. 

Connecticut has also laid out precautions involving travel outside of the state and country. At the time of press, all states except New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island are on the state’s affected state list, meaning that you are required to fill out a Travel Health Form if you choose to go to one of those states and eventually return to Connecticut.

The current track of the vaccine distribution shows that a return to traveling may still not be safe until the late fall, when the CDC expects the United States to reach herd immunity. For this to occur, 70 to 90 percent of Americans would need to be vaccinated, which is projected to take place in early September to mid-November. 

“I have heard multiple sources say herd immunity may be reached closer to the end of the year. I do believe masks will be with us at least in school next fall but things should hopefully get back to some normalcy” Overcash stated.

For now though, the state of Connecticut advises against traveling, and if you choose to do so, you must take the necessary safety precautions upon return.

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