Submitted by Illinois Cancer Care
After more than a year of pandemic restrictions, many people are hitting the road or catching a plane. But some are wondering if it’s safe for them to travel, especially since COVID-19 cases are rising again in all 50 states due to the Delta variant. If you are immunocompromised yourself, or a caregiver for someone who is, there are some extra steps you can take to help protect against the virus.
Who Is Immunocompromised?
According to the CDC, immunocompromised or immunosuppressed means having a weakened immune system. Immunocompromised patients have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases, and are increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. This may be caused by certain diseases or conditions, such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes, malnutrition, and certain genetic disorders. It may also be caused by certain medicines or treatments, such as anticancer drugs, radiation therapy, and stem cell or organ transplant. Cancer patients, for example, can become immunocompromised (at least for a period of time) due to the disease, as a result of treatment they are undergoing, or a combination of both reasons.
Making a Personal Mask Decision
According to the CDC, vaccinated individuals should wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. This is to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others. Please remember there are some situations in which you are required to wear masks.
The Transportation Security Administration has announced that masks must be worn by all those over age 2 when traveling by train, airplane, or bus. This includes the depots and airports. This order has been extended through January 18, 2022.
The CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid traveling on cruise ships. Even if you are vaccinated, cruise ships can be a risky place for immunocompromised people. Since COVID-19 spreads easily among people who are in close quarters, this would increase the potential for infection. In addition, getting sick while stuck on a ship would be a miserable experience for you and your travel companions.
If you plan to stay in a hotel, Airbnb or other lodging, call ahead or check their website for their COVID-19 protocols. Most, if not all, have greatly increased their disinfecting efforts while others have taken additional safety measures such as 24-hour vacancies in rooms between guests, additional outdoor dining options, remote check-in, fewer visits from the cleaning staff during your stay, and other social distancing actions.
Planning ahead for your vacation is more important than ever due to reduced entrance numbers or newly-introduced reservations for national parks, theme parks, restaurants, and other venues. In some cases, this is due to ongoing COVID protocols to maintain social distancing. In other cases, it’s the result of a reduced workforce available to fill positions like lifeguards, clerks, tour guides, park rangers and more.
Wide-spread vaccination holds promise for ending the COVID-19 pandemic, but it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, continue taking precautions to protect yourself and others if you travel.
Visit this website to see an updated map of current COVID-19 risk levels in the U.S. https://covidactnow.org/us
*Note: the risk is reduced for those who are vaccinated.
For more information on immune compromised travel and other care giving tips, please call 309-243-3437 or visit our website at IllinoisCancerCare.com.