News this past week has put a bit of a damper on some end of the year travel plans. In November, a new variant was discovered in South Africa, and by now we all know the name. The Omicron variant has been reported in as many as 19 states by now. But there is a lot we do not yet know. How does it compare to the Delta variant? Are vaccines and masks effective against it? How will this impact winter travel, and should we be cancelling some of those winter travel plans?
Here are some ideas to keep in mind in order to be as safe as possible this holiday season. It is the responsibility of all of us to look out for our own health, and for the health of those vulnerable around us.
As we look forward to seeing all the new and old generations in our families, make sure to spare a thought for the members of your circle who may not have been eligible for the vaccine. This includes young children and some very rare cases of immunocompromised or allergic individuals. The CDC recommends not only getting fully vaccinated but also scheduling a booster shot, depending on what brand you received, in the upcoming months if it is time.
In terms of visitors this winter, if you have anyone coming in from a different country, they will most likely need to show proof of vaccination to be able to even board their flight.
For outdoor activities that are not crowded, masks are not necessary. However, crowded outdoor events and anything inside with strangers are good occasions to mask up.
- Get tested often
The experts are recommending regular testing even among the fully vaccinated. With both the Delta and Omicron variant, there are fears of so-called “breakthrough infections.” This means that a fully vaccinated person may still contract Covid. However, vaccinated people will have a lot fewer symptoms. And while this is a great thing, it may also lead to infected, asymptomatic people, which could worsen the spread of the disease. This is why it is a good idea for all of us to get tested before going to a new place with new people.
As far as welcoming international travellers goes, a negative covid test is required of any air traveller over the age of 2 when coming into the US.
- Stay home when sick
Beyond testing, learn to know your body. If you feel under the weather at all, skip that trip. Testing may not catch all infections right away, and you could just as likely bring around the common flu or cold. These are not always dangerous on their own, but in combination with a nation ravaged by Covid, it is worth it to avoid bringing around more germs and illnesses to your loved ones.
This does not mean that your winter will have to be spent alone! With a little common-sense precaution, and by staying on top of the latest recommendations, you can enjoy the gift of a family visit this year.