Travel Tuesday: My Two Cents on the CDC’s Latest Travel Guidance
If you consume much news, the past few weeks have been a bit conflicting in terms of the COVID-19 situation. On the one hand, vaccine roll-outs continue to expand — and, as I write this, President Biden has even moved up the date for when every American will be eligible — yet, on the other hand, there have been concerns from officials that cases could get out of hand before that. Amid all of this, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released guidelines last week that (in an oversimplified nutshell) suggest fully vaccinated individuals can travel domestically with a low risk of infection. The question then becomes, should they? Here’s what I think.
Before we dive into my commentary, let me first get into some more specifics about what the CDC has said. First, in this case, “fully vaccinated” means that it’s been at least two weeks since your second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two weeks from your one-and-only shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Next, according to their site, “People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States.” Furthermore, these individuals do not need to be tested before or after travel (unless required by the destination) and do not need to self-quarantine. However, they should still observe other CDC guidelines, including proper mask-wearing, maintaining six feet of distance from others, avoiding crowds, and frequent hand washing. Additionally, after traveling, they still recommend that fully vaccinated individuals monitor for COVID-19 symptoms since, while the chances are low, it is still possible to be symptomatically infected with the virus.
Personally, I think this all makes a ton of sense and is exactly the type of guidance I would expect. Of course, I am absolutely no expert so this opinion means next to nothing, but whatever. To me, this seems like a reasonable approach that will allow vaccinated individuals to not only resume some level of normalcy but also support industries that have been hard-hit by the pandemic. That said, “low risk” does still include risk. Therefore, those who have concerns about their health or the health of a loved one may want to take additional precautions such as quarantining upon return or forgoing travel until vaccination rates climb and infection rates fall.
In our case, my wife and I are very excited about our first trip as vaccinated individuals. That’s why we’ve been planning a trip to (where else?) Las Vegas next month. Between her already receiving both doses of the vaccine and me having an appointment for later this week, this time frame ensures that we’ll both fall under the CDC’s aforementioned definition of “fully vaccinated.” Rest assured that we’ll also be taking the other recommended steps, including mask-wearing. After all, we’ve grown quite a collection of stylish mask options over the past year… and they’re still required by many businesses across the country. While I look forward to a day when masks won’t be necessary, I’m happy to wear one for as long is recommended.
To me, the CDC’s latest news is a huge step forward for the travel industry and is really a ray of hope. Alas, the encouraging news does come with a few drawbacks as Delta — the last notable hold out — has announced that it will end the practice of blocking middle seats beginning on May 1st. Selfishly, I wish such policies could remain in place, but I suppose it’s better than my favorite domestic airline is able to make money.
Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind that the “return to normal” that everyone is seeking will be a slow march. On that note, while the CDC’s advice applied to domestic travel, it still warns that “international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants” — not to mention that a number of countries are still barring travel anyway. In any case, I’m definitely excited about this latest development and am enthusiastic to join the “fully vaccinated” in the coming weeks. Things are getting better, friends!