Is it safe to travel in 2021 if you’re unvaccinated?

is it safe to travel unvaccinated
Photo via Gauthier DELECROIX - 郭天/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

After nearly a year and a half of pandemic life, people worldwide are looking forward to finally breaking their quarantine isolation. The summer months always come with a surge in travel, and in 2021, the travel industry is expected to see an extra boost. The spread of the delta COVID variant has some people concerned, however, particularly for those who have yet to be vaccinated. But are coronavirus cases in the U.S. and around the world low enough to make it safe for unvaccinated people to travel?

If you can get a COVID-19 vaccine, experts advise that you do so. The spread of COVID-19 has slowed immensely in recent months, but the rise of several variants—including the highly contagious delta variant—poses a risk to anyone without a vaccine. A resurgence in travel will inevitably increase transmission of the delta variant, and that will put anyone without a vaccine at risk. 

It is much less safe for unvaccinated people to travel, particularly using crowded transportation options like airplanes, trains, or buses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises any unvaccinated Americans to delay travel until they can be fully vaccinated. It outlines a number of safety measures that can be taken by those traveling with unvaccinated children, however, as well as those who are unable to be vaccinated. 

None of the vaccines have been approved for children below the age of 12, so parents with young children will have to take a risk while traveling. To be as safe as possible, unvaccinated travelers should wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times while in transit. They should also maintain a distance of at least six feet from all other individuals and practice diligent hygiene. 

The CDC also recommends that unvaccinated people consider traveling by car or, if air travel is necessary, seeking out nonstop flights with no layovers. Unvaccinated people should also avoid staying in hotels or multi-guest lodgings, opting instead for single-group dwellings like family homes or Airbnbs. When dining, it is safest for unvaccinated travelers to order in, grab takeout, or make food at home to avoid crowded public spaces.

If you’re concerned about COVID-19 and its variants, you can check your intended destination on the CDC’s global variant map. It tracks instances of COVID variants around the globe, so people can check their upcoming travel locations ahead of time.

Read more coronavirus travel news:

Sources: CDC, New York Times

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