Now that millions of Americans have received their COVID vaccine, the national conversation has shifted. People want to know if their lives can go back to normal. Do COVID restrictions still apply? Can we travel again? As we look ahead to the summer months, let’s explore our options.
Getting the COVID vaccine
Most Medicare recipients are eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. Distribution has increased throughout the United States since the vaccine was first introduced, so you should be able to schedule your shot with a local vaccine clinic or pharmacy if you haven’t already gotten it.
When are you considered fully vaccinated? If you get the Modena or Pfizer 2-part vaccine, you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot. If you get the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after you get your shot.
What changes when I get the vaccine?
Due to the continued concerns regarding the pandemic and the variants of the COVID-19 virus that have appeared globally, there are still precautions to take after getting vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been adjusting their guidelines as more research is done, but masks and social distancing are still recommended depending on your activities and environment. Federal, state and local regulations may apply depending on where you live. Some states have released mask mandates, while others have been more hesitant to get back to normal. Check with your local public health department for specific guidelines and laws before making any changes to your daily habits.
Many people are anxious to travel to visit family members they haven’t seen in a year, while others simply want a change of scenery after quarantines and stay at home orders. Once you have the vaccine, is it safe to travel?
While fully vaccinated people are less likely to contract or spread COVID-19, the CDC still recommends mask-wearing, social distancing, and thorough hand-washing for people traveling domestically.
Fully vaccinated people may be able to travel internationally, but it may depend on another country’s COVID restrictions. Some countries are opening up for fully vaccinated tourists, but it’s important to stay vigilant. Variants of the COVID-19 virus may still pose a threat, so the CDC still recommends fully vaccinated people get tested for COVID 3-5 days after traveling internationally.
Before you get on an airplane, check the updated travel guidelines for the airline, airport, and destination. Wear a mask over your mouth and nose, stay 6 feet away from others, and use hand sanitizer frequently. Upon returning to the United States, the CDC requires all air passengers coming to the US, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, “to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.”