OR Health Expert: Vaccinations Will Make Summer Travel Safer, Easier
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Travel is expected to pick up this summer as vaccination rates increase and COVID-19 cases trend downward, but health experts are reminding people they still need to travel safely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed mask rules for people who are fully vaccinated, that is, two weeks after their final shot. Masks still are required in certain places for everyone, such as on planes.
The vaccine has also been approved for children 12 and older.
Dr. Jennifer Vines, health officer for Multnomah County, said it will be much easier and safer to travel this summer for those who have been vaccinated.
"People who are fully vaccinated can travel within the United States without a lot of the testing or quarantine hassles," Vines explained. "They can also feel good that they're well protected against the variants that are currently circulating in Oregon and in the rest of the country."
Vines hopes eliminating testing and quarantine requirements will be an incentive for people to get vaccinated. Nearly 63% of Oregonians 18 and older have received at least one vaccine shot. COVID-19 cases in Oregon spiked in April but are coming back down now.
Dr. Amit Arwindekar, North American medical director for UnitedHealthcare Global, said people should be extra careful if they plan to travel internationally. He urged would-be travelers to stay on top of case rates and public health regulations at their destination. He added people should also check their health policy, noting 80% of countries worldwide still have "Do Not Travel" warnings from the U.S. State Department.
"If you get sick, if you need to be hospitalized, or even if you just need to quarantine, and they're going to keep you from getting on the plane, you should understand, 'How are you going to pay for that?" Arwindekar asked. "Is it covered under your plan? And, 'Where can you go to get safe, high-quality care in that country?'"
Arwindekar encouraged families with children younger than age 12, who are not yet approved to get the COVID-19 vaccine, to try to delay travel for now. He added while the vast majority of young children get mild cases when infected, they could spread the virus to other people.
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