Dr. Fauci Says This is One of the Riskiest Things You Can Do
Coronavirus vaccines are here (if scarce), and states like New York and California are rolling back COVID-19 restrictions in the face of slightly declining case numbers. But Americans shouldn't interpret that as a green light to travel; in fact, taking trips should be strictly avoided, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, on Wednesday night. Read on for his wrning—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Travel is "Not a Good Idea, Period," Says Dr. Fauci
"It is not a good idea to travel, period," even if you've been vaccinated, said Fauci during a CNN town hall on COVID-19. "If you absolutely have to travel and it's essential, then obviously one would have to do that, but we don't want people to think because they got vaccinated then other public health recommendations just don't apply."
That's because the purpose of the two currently available COVID-19 vaccines is to prevent severe illness from coronavirus, Fauci explained. Even after being vaccinated, you can still become infected with COVID-19, and can still transmit it to others—for example, people who aren't vaccinated or are at risk for severe illness—even though you might not experience symptoms yourself.
"So you could conceivably get infected, get no symptoms and still have virus in your nasal pharynx, which means that you would have to wear a mask to prevent you from infecting someone else, as well as the other side of the coin, where you may not be totally protected yourself," said Fauci.
Getting Vaccinated Not 'A Free Pass to Travel'
The initial two vaccines (by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech) seem to be 94% to 95% effective against the initial strain of COVID-19. The problem is, that's not 100%—and there are now several mutated strains of COVID-19 that may reduce the vaccines' effectiveness. The extent of that potential reduction isn't yet clear.
"So getting vaccinated does not say, 'Now I have a free pass to travel,' nor does it say that 'I have a free pass to put aside all of the public health measures that we talk about all the time,'" said Fauci.
During the town hall, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new head of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, also warned against traveling. "I want to emphasize that now is not the time to be traveling, period, internationally or domestically," she said. "It's just not a good time to be traveling."
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.