VACCINE TEAM | Q&A on travel safety, what ‘herd immunity’ means

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As we continue to watch vaccines roll out across Kentucky, we are here to answer your questions.

Is it safe to travel if you’ve received the vaccine?

The good news is the Centers for Disease Control believes fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.

Fully vaccinated means two doses and two weeks after the second dose or two weeks after their single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“There is protection, but we still recommend people wear their masks, even if you’re traveling,” said Dr. Abinash Virk, an infectious diseases expert and co-chair of the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution workgroup. “We have to remember that protection may not be full especially for immunocompromised patients or those who are partially vaccinated, and at the same time, there are still many unvaccinated people who can be the carriers of the virus from one place to the other. And we have to continue to use a mask and social distance.”

Here’s the specific guidance from the CDC. People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States:

  • Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it
  • Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine

Fully vaccinated travelers should still follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely including:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Stay 6 feet from others and avoid crowds
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer

What does herd immunity mean regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations?

Herd immunity means that enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had the disease or they’ve been vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Herd immunity makes it hard for the disease to spread from person to person, and it even protects those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns.

While experts don’t yet know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, vaccination is a safer way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19.

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says herd immunity against COVID-19 could require vaccination rates approaching as high as 90 percent.

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