Like the rest of the world, the travel community is excited by the FDA’s approval of the Covid vaccine. However, we know there’s a lot of information (and misinformation) floating around out there regarding the vaccine, and we know it can be overwhelming and confusing. Wandering Moms recommends utilizing The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for factual information on the Covid vaccines. We’re sharing the CDC’s answers to some common COVID vaccine FAQs and discussing what the vaccine might mean for the travel industry. For additional information, you can go directly to the CDC’s webpage on Facts About the Covid Vaccine.
The CDC Shares Important Facts about the Covid Vaccine
Can I get Covid from the vaccine?
NO. The CDC says you cannot get Covid from the vaccine.
Why? None of the Covid vaccines currently authorized in the USA contain the virus that causes Covid-19. Because the vaccines do not contain virus particles, the vaccines CANNOT make you sick with Covid.
The CDC states that you may experience certain symptoms after receiving the vaccine- such as fever, headache, or general malaise- but these symptoms are caused by your body’s immune system learning to recognize and fight the virus.
If I get the vaccine, will I test positive on a Covid viral test?
NO. The CDC says you will not test positive on a viral test, which is the test used to see if you have a current infection.
If your body develops an immune response from the vaccine, which is the goal of being vaccinated, you may test positive on some ANTIBODY tests. The antibody tests are used to show past infection and show that your body has some level of protection against the virus.
If I’ve already had Covid, do I still need the vaccine?
YES. The CDC recommends that people who have already had a Covid infection still be offered the opportunity to be vaccinated.
A Covid infection leads to what doctors call “natural immunity.” Doctors know that levels of natural immunity with Covid vary from person to person. In addition, doctors are unsure how long natural immunity to Covid lasts. It is for these reasons that the CDC recommends people who have had Covid still be vaccinated to gain the benefits of vaccine-induced immunity.
Will the Covid vaccine alter my DNA?
NO. The CDC is very clear on the fact that the Covid vaccine WILL NOT alter your DNA in any way.
The Covid vaccines approved for use in the US are mRNA vaccines. mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response.
The CDC states, “The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way.”
When and where can I get the Covid vaccine?
Each state has developed their own vaccine prioritization plan. Within each state, vaccine distribution may be handled by counties.To find out when you are eligible to receive the vaccine and where your local vaccination clinic is located, go to your state’s website to view the vaccination plan!
What Does the Covid Vaccine Mean for Travel?
The Covid vaccine is certainly exciting for travelers. Many people have significantly changed, reduced, or even all together squashed their travel plans for the last year. The vaccine brings with it hope that we may be able to hit the road and take to the skies again soon!
While the approval and distribution of the Covid vaccine is definitely a step in the right direction in regards to controlling the virus, the CDC still urges caution when traveling. It will likely be a long time before travel returns to normal. Here’s why:
How effective is the vaccine?
It’s important to understanding the timing of how the vaccine works. The New England Journal of Medicine published a report on the effectiveness of the Pfizer Covid vaccine. It states that protection does not start until 12 days AFTER the first shot. At most, the first shot will lead 52% effectiveness. After the second shot, it will take an additional week for the vaccine to reach 95% effectiveness. The Moderna vaccine reports a similar trajectory, with 51% effectiveness two weeks after the first dose and 94% effectiveness two weeks after the second dose. You can read more about when and how vaccine protection kicks in this fantastic article by NPR.
What does this mean? First, it means that it takes awhile for the vaccine to reach it’s maximum level of effectiveness. During that window of time, continuing to properly wear a mask, wash hands rigorously, social distance, and avoid crowds is imperative. We can’t abandon these measures just because we’ve had one dose of the vaccine. The CDC recommends maintaining all of these safety measures even AFTER vaccination, and limiting travel until the second dose has had time to become fully effective.
However, the CDC also reminds us that the vaccine is only 95% effective. This is great news, but we must remember that it is not 100% effective. It is still possible for some people to catch (and spread) Covid even if they’ve been vaccinated. In fact, 95% effectiveness means that it is possible for 1 out of every 20 vaccinated people to still catch Covid. So when we do resume travel, continuing to wear a mask and wash our hands will still be an important part of preventing the spread.
Can I still spread Covid if I’ve been vaccinated?
There are additional questions about the vaccine that, until answered by science, may continue to damper travel. The main question doctors and scientists are trying to answer is “Can I have an asymptomatic case and spread Covid to others even if I’ve been vaccinated?”
There simply hasn’t been enough time to study this question robustly, though scientists are working on it around the clock. It’s possible that a vaccinated person could catch Covid and have a completely asymptomatic case thanks to the protection provided to them by the vaccine. However, while asymptomatic, it is possible they could be shedding virus particles that could potentially infect others.
Will a vaccine be required for travel?
The short answer here is- we don’t know. There has been a lot of talk in the travel community about whether or not proof of vaccination will be required for travel, but as of now, there is no consensus. A blanket vaccination requirement and “immunity passports” can lead to a lot of moral and ethical dilemmas, as well as concerns about effectiveness and enforcement. It is entirely possible that airlines may have vaccine requirements in the future. As of right now, only one airline- Quantas- states that they will require that proof of vaccination to fly. Will other airlines follow suit? Only time will tell.
Another possibility is that some countries may require proof of vaccination for entry- though this is not a new concept. Many countries currently require certain vaccinations for entry and as the Covid vaccine becomes more widely available, certain countries may indeed add it to their list of required vaccinations.
Stay tuned to Wandering Moms as we’ll continue to update our blog with the most current information on how vaccination may impact the travel community!