The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance this week that says people who are vaccinated can visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing. Despite the changes, the CDC still advises against traveling.
Isaac Weisfuse, medical epidemiologist at Cornell University, says coronavirus variants may threaten the efficacy of current vaccines and travelers should not assume it is 100 percent safe, even if vaccinated.
“Even for those vaccinated, there are some risks associated with travel because vaccinated persons may get asymptomatic infection and transmit the virus to others. We know that vaccine efficacy is not 100 percent, so some vaccinated persons may not be protected and therefore still be at risk for disease. There are 'variant' viruses circulating that may lessen the immune protection offered by the vaccine, and there could be variants in the future that may bypass that protection entirely.
“Tips for travelers: Don't assume travel is 100 percent safe if you've been vaccinated;
avoid unnecessary travel; continue to wear masks and practice social distancing in public, especially in confined spaces such as airplanes or trains; consider avoiding travel to areas where there is an upswing in cases; keep up to date with the latest CDC recommendations on travel, as guidelines may change; when travelling carry your COVID-19 vaccination card in case you are asked to provide evidence of vaccination; and do not assume that others are vaccinated, so prior to getting together with friends or acquaintances inquire about their vaccination status.”
Chris Anderson, expert in operations, technology and information management, says the future of air travel depends on the success of vaccine rollouts.
“I don’t think the new CDC guidelines surrounding travel should be a surprise given the current level of vaccinations and the uncertainty around transmission. At this stage vaccinations provide safety and security for those vaccinated, but similar to masks, the restrictions with travel are about the safety and security of others (versus the vaccinated).
“I would not expect guidelines to relax, and hence more domestic air travel, until a larger fraction of the population is vaccinated. Hopefully by early summer domestic travel will start to rebound, with international travel dependent upon vaccination levels globally.”