Will We Ever Achieve Herd Immunity? Here’s What Travelers Need to Know

Recently, The New York Times, CNN, and others revealed the latest findings by America’s healthcare professionals, which is that, sadly, America and the rest of the world may never achieve herd immunity to combat the novel coronavirus.

Statistics cite the fact that just slightly over 30% of America is fully vaccinated, yet the number of people seeking out vaccines is dwindling at a rapid pace. Furthermore, experts originally suggested a number of around 70% to achieve herd immunity, but with the rise of the new, highly contagious variants, they now say that the percentages will need to be somewhere between 80% – 90% to fight the virus.

They also believe that COVID-19 outbreaks will become heavily localized. For example, if New York City gets almost its entire population vaccinated, then the Big Apple may never experience a massive COVID-19 outbreak. However, if a place like Boise, Idaho has a very low percentage of people who decide to get vaccinated, then Boise could experience a COVID outbreak. The continuing pandemic and localized outbreaks could mean three things for the future of travel:

 

1.) Vaccine passports will be a necessity 

vaccine passport
Vaccine passport (Photo: nattakorn_maneerat)

If there’s an ongoing pandemic, and if certain areas will continue to have outbreaks, then popular destinations and large cities may need to require proof of vaccination to enter. To make air travel safer, and to prevent the virus from being reintroduced to places that have irradiated it through mass vaccinations, there will need to be a way of knowing if someone is protected against the virus or not. Currently, there are a few ideas for what vaccination passports may look like, but, in general, the prototypes seem to be digital apps on your phone that will document your testing/vaccination status. If a traveler can’t provide proof of vaccination, certain destinations may require a quarantine period.

 

2.) Localized travel warnings and advisories

COVID-19 entrance restrictions (Photo: shu2260)

With the likelihood of localized COVID outbreaks in areas where few people have been vaccinated, it’s possible that we may see new, localized travel advisories. For example, if Omaha, Nebraska is having an outbreak and cases are on the rise, a travel advisory could be placed on Omaha, or even the state of Nebraska. According to the NYT article, the places refusing the vaccine tend to be (not surprisingly) Red States.

 

3.) Localized travel restrictions

quarantine
Quarantining during COVID-19 (Photo: Alonafoto)

As we all now know, travel restrictions are very real. Before 2020, the idea of a country banning entry to Americans seemed like something that could only happen in a dystopian horror movie. However, many countries still won’t let Americans enter for tourism due to the pandemic, and just last week America reinstated a travel restriction from India because of their new booming outbreak. In the USA, if outbreaks continue to happen due to a lack of vaccinations, it’s possible that we may see localized travel restrictions. People likely won’t be banned from entering another state, but an enforced, mandatory quarantine could be placed on people arriving from cities or states with high COVID-19 numbers.


For more information on getting vaccinated, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine webpage

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