Yesterday, I think we all read the CDC’s much anticipated guidelines for those who have been fully vaccinated. I think many were not only disappointed but surprised that they still recommend only essential travel. They advise: “You should still delay domestic and international travel. If you do travel, you’ll still need to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.”
As of yesterday, ”about 18% of US residents – more than 61 million people – have now received at least one dose of vaccine, and about 10% of US residents – about 32 million people – have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.” (Jim Sciutto)
The U.S. is moving right along, putting shots in arms and our COVID-19 numbers are dropping considerably because of it.
I follow many doctors on Twitter and one is Leana Wen (@DrLeanaWen) who is a practicing physician, a former Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore and CNN medical analyst. A clip of her that went viral yesterday is when she called CDC guidelines “far too cautious.”
She shared one of her segments and tweeted: “Saying that fully vaccinated people shouldn’t travel defies common sense. If vaccinated people don’t need to quarantine after exposure to someone with #covid19, why should air travel be an issue? The key is to wear masks + help people reduce risk at destination.”
The whole clip is below:
Saying that fully vaccinated people shouldn’t travel defies common sense. If vaccinated people don’t need to quarantine after exposure to someone with #covid19, why should air travel be an issue? The key is to wear masks + help people reduce risk at destination. @BrookeBaldwin pic.twitter.com/ahieJ8BL14
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) March 10, 2021
MSN did a good round up of her quotes from the segment: “A lot of families are separated from one another and need to travel to see one another. I’m really befuddled by why the guidance around travel was not changed. Travel is very low risk – imagine if you’re traveling in your individual car or even by plane – whenever everyone is wearing masks, the risk of coronavirus is very low,” she said.
The airline industry has not asked for any changes on mask wearing policies but it has called for a set of criteria that could be used to adjust their travel guidance.
The report, which assessed the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel, found a “very low probability” of being infected with COVID-19 from an aircraft and recommended following the multilayered approach of wearing a mask and physical distancing while boarding and deplaning.
Wen fears that not allowing vaccinated people to travel could mean unvaccinated people aren’t incentivized to view vaccination as a return to normal.
“We need to become a lot clearer about the freedoms that an individual can have once they have proof of vaccination,” she said. “I think that people who are fully vaccinated should be able to travel and should be in fact encouraged to travel, of course with all the precautions.”
She wasn’t the only one with the same concerns yesterday on TV. Ben Baldanza, former CEO of Spirit Airlines, went on CNBC to discuss the CDC’s new guidance for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and says the fear about traveling isn’t focused on the trip itself, but activities in and around travel. You can watch his segment here but he says it’s not the planes you have to worry about as the CDC has only confirmed 44 cases of people catching COVID-19 on planes and most took place before the mask mandate. He said you need to worry about on the ground.
I have been very optimistic thanks to the vaccines but I am worried about the B117 strain, which is running rampant in Europe and there’s been a huge increase in children 0-9. Check out this thread from Dr. Eric Ding, Epidemiologist & Health Economist.
Other unsettling news is Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, warns coronavirus is starting to ‘surge’ AGAIN in Europe and Paris hospitals near capacity as severe Covid-19 cases surge.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota warns that “We’re in the ‘eye of the hurricane’ right now” because of the UK variant. He’s really worried about those not vaccinated and even the ones that are until late May. I recommend you watch this Yahoo interview in full.
Another doctor who sees the light at the end of the tunnel is Dr. Jonathan Reiner. In Brian Stelter’s excellent media newsletter he says: “Getting back to pre-pandemic ‘normalcy’ is not an off-on light switch. Think of it more like we are turning up the light on a dimmer switch. It’s been really dark and now it is going to get progressively more light.” Every day, he said, a little more light: “We are going to see that over the next several months. I’m sure of it.”
I’m not telling anyone what to do as travel is definitely a personal choice but if I was fully vaccinated and so were my loved ones, I would definitely be traveling. However, I would still wear a mask and practice social distancing in a public setting and most likely wait until at least May to travel.
What are your thoughts?
I am fully vaccinated. Nevertheless I have cancelled two 2021 air travel plans to date. I am not worried about catching Covid from plane tray tables. I am concerned about the lack of social distancing on fully loaded planes & about reported passengers who leave their masks off for most of the flight (slowly eating and drinking their way through the flight). And then there are the random passengers like the crazy JetBlue woman on your video from last week, shouting with her mask off to one & all, spraying aerosols along the aisle.