Assist! I’m Vaccinated, However What Do I Have to Know to Defend Others?

I have had my first vaccination and plan to book a flight to California two weeks after the second. Like many others, I have not seen my grandchildren for more than 15 months, during which time the baby became a toddler and the preschooler became a young boy. Now that some of us are successfully vaccinating and planning to fly to see our families, I have some questions that I hope you can clear up. Margot

1. Is it safe to travel by subway, train, bus or plane after my vaccination? What are the appropriate protocols to protect others?

Even before the vaccines arrived, mass transit was rarely labeled by health workers with blankets as “safe” or “unsafe.” Studies conducted over the summer have shown that when certain criteria are met, subways are safer in terms of transmitting viruses than one might expect. A number of new studies show that the probability of coronavirus infection in flight is low. For trains and airplanes, the focus is – and will continue to be – on concrete, active risk mitigation measures, such as high-efficiency air filtration, improved disinfection, mask requirements, social distance and capacity limits.

With that in mind, let us rephrase your first question:

“It’s safer for her, as an individual, to travel this way and not get sick herself,” said Keri N. Althoff, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“We know that vaccines protect the person who has been vaccinated from getting really, really sick to the point of hospitalization or death,” said Dr Althoff. “But we do not know if a vaccinated person can still become infected and transmit either an asymptomatic infection or a very mild unnoticed infection. We are still waiting for the data. “

Only about 8 percent of the United States population has received at least one shot, according to the latest figures, which means you are in the minority right now. if you are able to board a plane, there is a good chance the person behind you has not yet been hit.

This is why the second part of your question is so important and why the basic protocols for protecting others (masks, distances, hand washing) have not changed. That is why airlines and other transport companies are nowhere near getting rid of them. In fact, these protocols have only been reinforced in recent weeks by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has issued a mask order for all internal transports.

“I know it’s frustrating, especially for grandparents, because it almost feels like the target positions have shifted again,” Dr. Althoff said. “But we always said that you can not just tear your mask and run as it is in 2019 once you are vaccinated. We have all learned not only how important our individual health is, but also how interconnected we are. “

2. Do I need a negative test to fly if I have a vaccination card?

At the moment, vaccination cards are no substitute – well, almost nothing.

Last week, the CDC placed an order requiring a negative coronavirus test (or recovery documentation) for all incoming international travelers (ages 2 and up), including United States citizens. The test must be completed within three days of departure and submitted to the airline prior to boarding, and there are no exceptions for antibody or vaccination status.

“It’s directly linked to the fact that we do not know if people who are vaccinated are also protected from infection and cannot be transmitted,” said Dr Althoff. “So these guidelines will stay in place until science says otherwise.”

There is currently no federal test order for domestic flights, such as the one you hope to receive, but CDC officials said they were “actively looking into it.” (In profit calls last week, executives at several domestic airlines expressed concern that such a demand would further stifle the declining industry.)

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Answers to your questions about vaccines

Am I eligible for the Covid vaccine in my state?

Today more than 150 million people – almost half the population – are eligible for vaccination. But each state makes the final decision about who goes first. The nation’s 21 million healthcare workers and three million residents of long-term care facilities were the first to qualify. In mid-January, federal officials called on all states to open eligibility to anyone 65 and older and adults of any age with medical conditions that put them at high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19. Adults in the general population are at the back of the line. If federal and state health officials can clear up bottlenecks in vaccine distribution, anyone aged 16 and over will be eligible as early as this spring or early summer. The vaccine has not been approved for children, although studies are ongoing. It may be months before a vaccine is available for people under 16 years of age. Visit your state health website for up-to-date information on vaccination policies in your area

Is the vaccine free?

You do not have to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine, although you will be asked for insurance information. If you do not have insurance, you should get the vaccine free of charge. Congress passed legislation this spring banning insurers from applying any cost sharing, such as co-payment or deduction. It focused on additional protections prohibited by pharmacies, doctors and hospitals from charging patients, including those who are uninsured. Even so, health experts are concerned that patients may stumble into gaps that leave them vulnerable to surprise bills. This could happen to those who are charged for a doctor’s visit with their vaccine or to Americans who have certain types of health coverage that do not fall under the new rules. If you get your vaccine from a doctor’s office or emergency room clinic, talk to them about possible hidden charges. To be sure you will not be surprised, the best bet is to get your vaccine at a vaccination center at a health center or local pharmacy as soon as the downloads become more widely available.

Can I choose which vaccine to take?How long will the vaccine last? Will I need another one next year?

This needs to be determined. Covid-19 vaccinations can become an annual event, just like the flu. Or it may be that the benefits of the vaccine last for more than a year. We have to wait to see how durable the vaccine protection is. To determine this, researchers will monitor vaccinated people to look for “pioneering cases” – those people who become ill with Covid-19 despite being vaccinated. This is a sign of weakening protection and will give researchers clues as to how long the vaccine lasts. They will also monitor the levels of antibodies and T cells in the blood of the vaccinated people to determine if and when booster may be needed. It is possible that people may need amplifiers every few months, once a year or just every few years. It ‘s just a matter of waiting for the data.

Will my employer require vaccinations?Where can I find out more?

As for what these vaccination cards could mean in the future, experts predict an increase in third-party “health passports” that store test results, vaccination records and travel instructions. Some, such as the CommonPass and the IATA Travel Pass, have already been tested on different routes and airlines and will be further evaluated, to be finally released to the public in the coming months. But for now these apps are just guardians of information: Travelers should not wait to skip test orders and other instructions.

3. Do I have to follow the quarantine regulations of any particular state if I have been fully vaccinated? Such a requirement would make the journey very difficult.

With the exception of New Hampshire, which now allows people who have quarantined 14 days after their second shot, most states still require fully vaccinated people to comply with quarantine requirements.

“States are conservative and waiting for this data,” said Dr Althoff. “That’s why the CDC and most public health leaders do not recommend a trip until things calm down. Vaccine or not, there are no silver balls here. “

Sarah Firshein is a Brooklyn-based author. If you need advice on a well-planned travel plan that went wrong, send an email to [email protected].

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