By Darryl Sellers – The long, hot days of summer are giving many Americans the burning desire to travel and escape COVID-19 fatigue after being mired in its throes for more than a year. The good news for travel this summer is that COVID-19 deaths in the United States have dipped to their lowest level since March 2020 in the earliest days of the virus outbreak.
While the recent precipitous drop in COVID-19 deaths and infections in the United States are cause for celebration, the emerging Delta variant and low vaccination rates in several states, including Mississippi and Tennessee, are reasons to pause and make sure you’re fully vaccinated in order to stay safe and healthy.
The Delta variant is likely to become the dominant strain in the United States this summer. However, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are 96 percent effective against hospitalizations from the variant. The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides only 33 percent protection against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant.
The start of the peak for summer travel being upon us was the theme for a recent Jump In with Jumi Facebook Live, Black Doctor.org event. This health and wellness show focused on how we can stay safe as we venture away from our homes.
As countries continue to open travel to fully vaccinated Americans, it’s important to do your homework before traveling globally, especially with vaccination rates all over the map overseas. Many countries are dealing with vaccine inequity as well as availability and quality of healthcare, the issues people in the United States aren’t facing. We should seriously keep these considerations in mind before traveling internationally.
“I’m very concerned if people are not including what’s going on in their destination and in their risk calculus,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, an infectious disease epidemiologist and expert contributor for CNN. “I really think it says a lot about our inability to check our privilege before we jump on a plane,” she said. “I think that if you’re vaccinated and that you’ve taken your precautions when it comes to just testing, you’re being safe and going to a place not experiencing a burden of the disease, I think it’s fine to go.”
As vaccination rates continue to rise in the United States with around 67 percent of Americans ages 18 and older receiving at least one dose of a vaccine, many countries are on the other end of the spectrum. For example, only 4 percent of residents in South Africa have received a vaccine. For the foreseeable future, traveling to countries with low vaccination rates is not recommended, especially considering the recent surge and more contagious nature of the Delta variant.
“It’s going to take a while unless we are as a country being more benevolent and generous with our excess doses and getting COVAX to actually support all of these countries that need it,” Rivera said. “It’s going to take a long time for some countries to kind of catch up in that regard,” she said. “There are some estimates that some countries in Africa will not be fully vaccinated until 2023. I am concerned about travel to places like that, mostly because of what is happening with transmission and what is happening with variants and what is happening with their populations not being protected. It’s just not fair.”
The path to traveling overseas is rough right now, but it’s not the end of the world. Jumi reminds us that we need to continue taking the necessary safety precautions and be patient. That is part of a fabulous formula that will lead to safe and enjoyable travel this summer. “You can still have fun,” Jumi said. You might not be able to do the crazy 1,000 people in one place kind of situation, but you can still do it.”
That sums it up very well. Taking safety precautions, being patient, and getting vaccinated equals safe and fun travel this summer. Together “We Can Do This!”
To view the Jump In with Jumi Facebook Live event in its entirety, go to BlackDoctor.org. For a list of upcoming events, COVID-19 health and wellness information, and other events, go to BlackDoctor.org , the world’s largest and most comprehensive online health resource specifically targeted at African Americans.
For more information about COVID-19, health, and wellness, see Black Coalition Against COVID-19, a key health resource for African Americans.
Darryl Sellers is the Director of Public Relations Team for Creative Marketing Resources, a strategic marketing agency in Milwaukee and a partner of the BCAC.