Is it Safe to Travel During the Upcoming Holiday Season?

Medicare Benefits Solutions
Nov 22, 2021

According to experts, this coming holiday season is going to be a record year for travel in the United States. Airports and train and bus stations are going to be full of people anxious to get home to spend time with friends and family members they haven’t seen for over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you’re thinking about traveling during the 2021 holiday season but aren’t sure if it’s safe, the CDC recommends that people delay traveling until they are fully vaccinated. However, there are safe travel suggestions for those who are fully vaccinated and those who aren’t. 

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?

According to government standards, you are fully vaccinated when you have met one of the following conditions:

  • Two full weeks have passed after you received your second dose of a two-dose series of vaccines. In the U.S. these include the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
  • Two weeks have passed after you received a single-dose vaccine. In the U.S. this is the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine.

Do your Medicare benefits cover a COVID-19 vaccine?

Your Medicare insurance covers COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized or approved by the FDA. This coverage includes the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines.

As of now, Medicare also covers a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. You are eligible for this vaccine if, at least, six months have passed since you received your second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 series. You must also be 65 years or older, or considered to be at high risk of infection or complications from COVID-19. 

Medicare covers 100 percent of the cost of COVID-19 vaccines and the administration of the vaccine. Medicare beneficiaries are not responsible for paying a deductible or copayment, and your healthcare provider can’t charge you anything for administering the vaccine. 

Travel recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated:

Even if you are fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends that everyone wear a mask properly (covering mouth and nose) while traveling on all forms of public transportation. This includes planes, trains, buses, ships, and others. People must also wear a mask while they are inside transportation hubs like airports and stations, outside while boarding a plane, bus, or train, or while on the deck of a ship. 

While you’re traveling you should be aware of all local requirements like wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. It’s also important to wear a mask in crowded settings, even if they are outdoors.

When you get to your destination, and when you return to your home, you should self-monitor for symptoms. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, isolate yourself and get tested immediately. If you don’t have symptoms, you don’t need to get tested or isolate yourself if you are fully vaccinated or you have recovered from COVID within the past three months. 

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Travel recommendations for those who are NOT fully vaccinated:

If you aren’t fully vaccinated, before you go on your trip you should undergo a viral test one to three days before leaving. If you are traveling on public transportation, you must follow the company’s requirements to travel. During travel, wear a mask properly at all times. The mask should cover your nose and mouth to be effective in protecting you and others. 

Try to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of six feet between you and others. Also, wash your hands as often as possible and use hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol content. When you get to your destination, and when you return home, get tested three to five days after your trip. Stay home and self-isolate for seven days after traveling. It’s important that you self-isolate even if you test negative, but if you test positive, isolate yourself to keep others safe. 

If you don’t get tested for COVID-19 after you travel, you should self-quarantine for ten days. You should avoid anyone who is at risk for severe illness for 14 days whether you are tested for COVID-19 or not. During the isolation period, you should self-monitor for COVID symptoms. If you develop symptoms you should isolate yourself and get tested. 

Traveling home for the holidays is on everyone’s mind these days, but don’t do it if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

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