Summer is just around the corner, and for many Americans, that means more opportunities to gather with friends and family — more graduation parties, more baseball games, and more vacations.
While widespread vaccination and new treatments have eased some concerns around COVID-19, it’s still important to understand how you can protect yourself and others when you’re on the go or visiting unvaccinated or immunocompromised family and friends.
“Many people are relieved to be getting back to their pre-pandemic activities, but we’re not fully out of the woods yet,” said Craig Robbins, MD, physician co-lead for Kaiser Permanente’s national COVID-19 vaccination program. “Across the globe and in our neighborhoods, the virus is continuing to spread and create new variants. The most important thing that anyone over the age of 5 can do to protect themselves against infection is to get vaccinated and boosted.”
Many airlines, trains, and other forms of mass transportation no longer require masking. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings, and it’s a good idea to keep masking if you or someone in your family is at high risk for severe illness.
“Spending time with loved ones and attending special events, like weddings and graduations, is important, both for your emotional and psychological health,” Dr. Robbins said. “At the same time, if you’re personally at high risk or with people at high risk for severe illness, you should consider added safety measures like wearing a mask and avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.”
Before attending any indoor event or gathering, it’s a good idea to take a COVID-19 home antigen test. You can order free tests from the federal government and Kaiser Permanente members with a kp.org account can order no-cost self-tests to be mailed to their homes. Learn about all the ways to access self tests at kp.org/covidtests.
If you’re feeling ill before you travel, stay home. If you want to spend time with people you don’t live with or you’re unsure of their health or vaccination status, consider taking advantage of the summer weather with an outdoor activity like a hike or a picnic. You’re less likely to contract COVID-19 when you’re outside, even without the use of masks.
Have an international trip planned for this summer? Make sure to look into additional travel requirements that may apply. For example, all air passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before traveling back to the United States. For up-to-date guidance on international and domestic air travel, as well as travel on cruise ships, visit the CDC website.
“We all want to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us,” Dr. Robbins said. “But we’ve seen increases in infections after major holidays and large events. To avoid another surge, we must stay vigilant.”
For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines and how to find a vaccination or booster appointment in your area, visit kp.org/covidvaccine. If you’re a Kaiser Permanente member, learn how to get care while away from home.