While we are still in a global pandemic, there are many signs that the world is starting to regain a sense of what life was like before COVID-19. Many states and countries are lifting quarantine and mask warrants and changing travel restrictions. Stores, restaurants and other places of business are operating at full capacity and people seem to be interested in going out and enjoying vacations or traveling to see family members they haven’t seen in more than a day. year. According to the Transportation Security Administration, the number of passengers who have passed through airport security has more than doubled since last January. Even though many of us feel comfortable in the world again, it is important to remain diligent, take care of our health while traveling, and be considerate of others.
Planning your trip
A little planning before your next trip will go a long way in keeping you safe. Make an appointment with your doctor for a check-up at least four weeks before you leave. This is the perfect opportunity to address any existing health issues that could be affecting your travel experience. Also, this would be a good time to educate yourself on the state of your health to make sure you stay well after you leave for your trip. This is also a great time to raise questions related to the region you plan to travel to – are there some viruses spread, can we drink water there, and what the pandemic looks like in the region. .
The following list is the information recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to share with your primary care provider during this visit:
– Special conditions such as pregnancy, allergies or chronic health problems.
– Destinations on your route.
– Type of accommodation (hotels, hostels, short-term rentals).
– Type of trip (cruise, business trip, adventure trip).
– The time and duration of your trip.
– Planned activities.
During your pre-departure visit with your health care provider, it would also be a good idea to bring up any of your prescribed medications. You can discuss any problems you may have with the medicine and make sure that you will have more than enough doses while you are away.
In addition to your over-the-counter medications, consider packing a few extra health items. The items you bring may depend on where you are traveling, but a few suggestions are your health card, proof of vaccination, a small first aid kit, hand sanitizer, bug spray, or sunscreen. .
Vaccinations for your trip Depending on your travel plan, your healthcare provider may suggest certain vaccinations. These vaccinations may even be required by the local government where you are traveling. Here are some examples of common travel vaccinations:
– Hepatitis A
– Hepatitis B
– Typhoid and paratyphoid fever
– Meningococcal disease
– Yellow fever
It is also recommended that you be up to date with any routine vaccines, or those you might consider to be children’s vaccines that you receive before you start school, such as the annual flu shot and Tdap.
Pandemic Considerations Whether or not you are traveling, COVID-19 vaccination is highly recommended. If you are fully vaccinated and are traveling within the country, it is advisable to always mask yourself in densely populated areas, such as airplanes, buses, or other means of public transport. Afterward, you should monitor yourself for any symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if they develop. The same advice should be followed if you are traveling overseas, but you should definitely get tested once you return to the United States.
If you are not vaccinated and are traveling within the country, consider the previous recommendations and also do a test before and after your trip, avoid people at higher risk of serious illness and quarantine for seven days full after the trip. You should not travel abroad if you have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. If you must, follow the travel recommendations found on the CDC website.
Do Your Homework We are in uncharted territory as our cities and countries begin to open up to travel. When planning your next trip, start with an appointment with your primary care provider. Then do your homework and stay flexible. Keep in mind that restrictions can change quickly depending on local conditions. It is also important to keep in mind that the COVID-19 situation, such as the level of spread and the presence of variants, varies in each country. Check back for updates as your journey draws closer. Save yourself the nasty surprises and delays by checking the restrictions at your destination and anywhere you might stop along the way.
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Rutul Dalal, MD, is the director of infectious diseases for UPMC in north-central Pennsylvania. For more information, visit UPMC.com/services/division-infectious-diseases.