As we head into another summer with COVID-19, the US is experiencing a swell in case numbers after many have spent more than two years confined and yearning for that white sandy beach vacation. Despite the increase in cases, many people are eager to put their heightened stress levels behind them and make their travel dreams a reality this summer. Though public health restrictions have loosened throughout the country, the risk of COVID-19 spreading throughout communities is still present, as evidenced by the rise in case rates and hospitalizations in May and June (shown in the graph below from John Hopkins University & Medicine).
Primary vaccinations and boosters are proven, powerful tools, available to help prevent transmission and reduce the severity of illness. Below, we’ll provide information on how to prepare before you pack your bags this summer, including getting the whole family vaccinated and boosted.
Vaccines & Booster Updates
Primary vaccines and boosters are strongly encouraged to protect yourself from getting seriously ill and to decrease the risk of spreading the virus to others. Eligibility for receiving the vaccine has broadened in the past few months. As of June 2022, children aged 6 months to 4 years now qualify for the primary series of vaccinations. For those who have already received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series, the CDC recommends that everyone ages 5 years and older should receive their 1st booster dose at least 5 months after the final dose of the primary series. For those who are aged 5 years and older and received the J&J/Janssen vaccine, it’s recommended that a booster of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna is received at least 2 months afterward. In late March of this year, the FDA approved a 2nd booster for individuals 50 years and older, in addition to those 12 years and older who have moderate or severely weakened immune systems. Unsure if you qualify? The CDC has a handy tool to help you find out when you can get a vaccine booster.
Safe Travel Tips
After becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there are additional steps you can take to help ensure a safe trip.
- Check the current COVID-19 Community Level at your destination.
- Review state and local health mandates, as these are frequently updated to reflect the progress of the pandemic. (For example, Alameda County in California recently saw an increase in COVID-19 cases, and in response, indoor mask mandates were reinstated for a period of time.)Spend time outdoors when possible.
- Wear a well-fitted mask when indoors, such as on mass transit and inside transportation hubs (airports, stations, etc.).
- Avoid close contact with crowds or spending time in crowded rooms when possible.
- Practice good hand hygiene
- If you begin feeling ill, isolate yourself from others and follow CDC’s recommendations.
After your trip, it is recommended that you monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms and that you get tested at a community-based testing site or by self-administering an authorized at-home test. At-home tests have become easily accessible and at no or low cost. If you have not yet requested your free at-home COVID-19 tests from USPS, it’s easy to sign up and you’ll receive them within a couple of weeks.