Flying home after the holidays? Getting vaccinated or boosted is the first step toward safe travel
For Americans traveling after Christmas and New Year's, getting their Covid-19 vaccinations or booster doses as soon as possible is critical to safely avoid serious illness.
Amid a surge of cases nationwide fueled by the Omicron coronavirus variant before the holiday season, parts of the country are reporting increased hospitalizations and deaths. People need to be prepared for a heightened risk of infection during travel by taking preventative measures.
The initial two-dose regimen will still protect better for serious illness, but you still need to get boosted if you want to travel safely.
Booster shots may take two weeks to provide peak immunity, doctors have said, meaning the sooner one gets vaccinated, the better. Other steps, including wearing a quality mask, can help lower risk of infection.
Millions of Americans who are immunocompromised should delay future travel plans for a few weeks if possible in the hope that the current surge won't span as long as previous ones, Hotez said.
The US has fully vaccinated nearly 62% of its total population, leaving millions unvaccinated at higher risk for serious illness and death from Covid-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And more than 31% of those inoculated have received additional doses or boosters.
Even though early research indicates that Omicron may cause less severe illness than the Delta variant, the recently detected strain is highly contagious and threatens to strain healthcare resources, officials and experts have warned. A hallmark of the season has been the shortage of Covid-19 testing kits -- a crucial tool in attempting to assuage the fast-moving virus.
Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said while there's always a risk to contract the virus while traveling, there are mitigation efforts available.
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