We are all asking ourselves – to travel or not to travel?
That is the question during this upcoming holiday season which we must ask ourselves. Your answer is different from everyone else’s. Everyone must make their own decision, but remember COVID-19 does NOT take vacation nor does the flu or other winter time illnesses. If you do decide to travel this winter make sure that you have received your flu shot and are up-to-date on the other immunizations: 2 pneumonia shots and 2 doses of Zostrix for shingles, and an updated Tdap.
However there are a few ways to keep exposure risk low. Reduce close contact as that increases the risk of exposure. It is still hard not to hug or kiss a friend or relative since COVID-19 has greatly diminished our social intrapersonal relationships. So give the elbow hug and not the pandemic bug. Facetime, Skype and Google Duo are a few of the interactive apps that allow you to talk live with family during holiday happenings. Still photos can be taken from the livestream and be added to family albums later. Set up Zoom rooms with your family and friends.
Other ways you can try to avoid getting sick would be to travel with your own supply of masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes. Assume that your travel plans will not go smoothly and you will need more supplies and possibly more time away from home than previously thought. You are at increased risk of getting Covid-19 if of older age or possess comorbid conditions such as Diabetes, CHF, HTN, Asthma to name a few. So maximize your health before you go. Take extra medication if possible.
Remember people attending the same event as you may not have been practicing the same safety measures as you before the holidays. The larger the crowd and the longer the time spent indoors with that crowd the more risk you have. Anticipate a 2 week quarantine if exposed to a COVID-19 case before you go or if exposed while on the trip. Don’t even go if waiting for a COVID-19 result . Also you may be quarantined on your return if exposed as well while gone. If there is an interstate restriction on travel, you may not get home as planned.
The number of new cases is spiking around the world, especially here in the USA. A national travel ban is not out of the question. There are multiple websites for answers to COVID -19 specific questions.
Holidays are stressful in the best of times. The COVID-19 cloud just adds even more stress. So evaluate your holiday plans, but know it is still possible to celebrate the holidays in a safe manner.
Marilyn M. Hart, MD, is a recently retired, board certified Family Practice Physician, residing in Tucson, Arizona. Originally from Philadelphia, Dr. Hart attended Thomas Jefferson Medical School and the University of Virginia. She has practiced medicine in four different states and eventually settled in Tucson, where she and her husband, Philip McIntyre, raised their three children and have lived for 27 years. Dr. Hart enjoys spending time with her new grandsons, being involved with music in any form, reading, mahjong cards, museums, and being with people.
In 2017, Dr. Hart was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is actively living and participating in the PD community. She is a PMD Alliance Ambassador.