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Mayo Clinic Gives Advice on Summer Travel

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KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH
/
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Mayo Clinic has advice for people looking to travel this summer after a year of staying home to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.

If you are fully vaccinated and healthy, it is most likely safe for you to travel, said Dr. Gregory Poland, Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group director. However, he said people who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised increase their risk of catching the virus if they travel.

“Probably the best advice I could give for any of these questions about travel for individuals is talk to your health care provider,” Poland said. “they will have a sense where you are immunologically, what your risks are.”

Children traveling is even more risky, said Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with the Clinic. Since children under 12 cannot get vaccinated, Rajapakse recommended they socially distance, something difficult on trains or planes.

Knowing whether there is a large rate of COVID-19 spread at a vacation destination is also an important factor, she said.

“I definitely recommend against traveling, especially with unvaccinated children, to any area that's seeing a lot of viral transmission or large outbreaks ongoing,” Rajapakse said.

She recommended parents consider an outdoor family vacation like camping or hiking to reduce the risk of getting the virus, because COVID-19 is less likely to spread outdoors.

The doctors also discussed vaccination rates. About 45% of the US population is fully vaccinated, well below the vaccination goal of about 80%, according to the Mayo Clinic’s U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.

Poland recommends people who are not vaccinated get their shots as soon as possible, and stay masked up whenever they are in public. 

He said he still wears a mask despite being vaccinated to set a good example to everyone else, and to reduce the risk he could become an asymptomatic carrier that could spread the disease to others.

“The idea here is to layer, sort of like an onion. One layer of protection after another to best protect yourself,” Poland said.

 
Tristan Wood can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @TristanDWood.