by Mindy Prewitt, M.D.
Malinda Prewitt, M.D., is an infectious disease physician with North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.
How can we be travel savvy amidst a dwindling yet still present COVID-19 pandemic? An infectious disease physician shares her best tips for staying safe.
Booking foreign travel remains a question. Vaccination in Europe remains spotty, and in other areas of the world, absent. Regulations upon arrival can be strenuous. For example, in the United Kingdom, you must quarantine for 10 days and have a negative COVID-19 test three days before you travel, as well as on days two and eight of your stay, all of which are very expensive. Fines can reach up to $17,000 if you fail to comply. Other countries may have different requirements, so please plan carefully. Additional hurdles exist upon reentry. Air passengers coming to the U.S. (including citizens) are required to have a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight. This includes both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The CDC has a risk assessment map of levels 1-4 of highest risk countries to lowest if you are planning a trip. CDC Yellow Book is another resource for international travelers.
Booking domestic U.S. travel has become much easier, as even strict destinations begin to ease requirements and lockdowns. The CDC just updated the benefits of being a fully vaccinated traveler, some of which are that one does not need to get tested before or after travel, unless the destination requires it, and does not need to self-quarantine. The CDC recommends unvaccinated people stay home.
Captain Murphy of Murphy’s Law of Combat Operations said, “Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing.”
Many of you are still hesitant about getting an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. Having personally witnessed hundreds of cases of COVID-19, including deaths, prolonged recoveries and lingering fatigue and fog, I can say with full conviction that YOU DO NOT WANT COVID-19. As pandemics go (take the 1918 influenza pandemic, for example), there are usually several waves. Do not be surprised if COVID-19 has more surprises. Per Captain Murphy: “A retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.”
In short, arm yourself with an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, a comfy mask and a good book because Captain Murphy says, “the side with the simplest uniforms wins.”
Murphy’s Laws of Combat Operations states “the enemy invariably attacks on two occasions: When they’re ready or when you’re not.”
The “enemy” is SARS-CoV 2, which causes COVID-19. After missing summer 2020 travel, many are ready to emerge from their virtual foxholes for a summer vacation. Masks, good hand washing and two arms’ length (6 feet) from your neighbor remain status quo. And, an FDA-approved vaccine is now available for most adults.
Packing tips include:
- Hard and digital copy of vaccination card, recent COVID-19 tests or proof of recovery from COVID-19 (CDC recommends testing one to three days before travel, but doublecheck with airlines, etc. to make sure)
- Extra masks for you and family members who inevitably lose theirs, then steal yours
- Sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Destination reservation requirements in writing
- Medical compression stockings (see CDC guidelines for preventing deep vein thrombosis)
- A good book, as reading is proven to increase good health and longevity