Is it safe to travel if you’ve been vaccinated?
Dr. Segal-Maurer: Traveling puts you in numerous public venues — public transportation, departure lounges, or airplanes — where you’ll be in close contact with people who may or may not be fully vaccinated. If you are planning to travel, you should still follow all current precautions — wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and social distancing. Airlines generally give you a temperature check before you get on a plane, so this is a little more controlled than going to a large indoor dining venue or indoor places where they don’t screen you when you go in, but all current travel precautions and guidance for where you are traveling to or from should still be followed.
Dr. Vasan: Even if you’re vaccinated, traveling puts you in a high-risk environment. You’re in an enclosed setting for an extended period of time, not always with the best circulation. It’s a setup for transmission, and we aren’t entirely certain about risk of reinfection. I would say that if you feel compelled to travel, to do so as safely as possible. Vaccination is not a panacea at the individual level. Everyone reacts differently to vaccines.
We know children under age of 16 cannot yet be vaccinated, but is it safe for children to go back to in-person school, day care, and summer camp?
Dr. Permar: It is very important for us to get children back to their usual activities, including school, sports activities, and day care, because we have seen some of the untoward effects of social isolation on children, which includes a very large mental health crisis, worsening obesity and fitness, and issues with child well-being in homes where they may be at risk of maltreatment.
Before the vaccines were developed, studies had shown that children do seem to be less likely to transmit the virus in a group setting, especially at the younger ages. Mitigation measures like masks, social distancing, and hand-washing are effective in settings where children gather, essentially eliminating the chance of transmission as long as these steps are taken. With vaccines now available to people who work in schools, day care, and camp settings, those settings should be even safer for children.