COVID-19 and summer travel: Advice for cancer patients
Last updated May 31, 2022
Figuring out how to travel safely has never been more confusing — especially for cancer patients and their families.
Though most of the United States now has low transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at least five sub-variants of omicron are currently circulating around the globe — with more mutations likely.
Masking is no longer required on airplanes or other forms of public transportation. But summer is right around the corner with all of its weddings, family reunions and vacations.
What’s the most important thing for people to know right now?
The main message is that this virus is still circulating. And people can still get infected with SARS CoV-2. So, they can’t just forget about it. They have to stay vigilant and be cautious.
What should cancer patients do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe?
We’re in a much different place now than we were in 2020, or even in 2021. For one thing, we have several effective, FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines available. We also have treatment options that weren’t around at the start of the pandemic.
That being said, COVID-19 is still something that cancer patients and immunocompromised people should try to avoid. Because if they get it, they may not do well, especially if they have other underlying problems.
That’s why all of the same guidance still applies:
get tested before and after traveling or if you have symptoms and follow the CDC's guidelines as to how long to stay home
Also, if you’re not fully vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you’re already fully vaccinated, get boosted. And if your care team says to get a second booster shot, get one. COVID-19 vaccinations have proven their value over and over again in terms of preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death.
How important is the masking piece right now?
Just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. So, even if it’s not required anymore, I still think it’s smart to wear a mask on public transportation — whether that’s a city bus, a taxi or an airplane. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends it, too.
I also think it’s wise to wear a mask at airports and anywhere else you might be exposed to a crowd. Again, it’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting others, too, including your immunocompromised loved ones.
Anything else cancer patients and their families should keep in mind?
For cancer patients, prevention of COVID-19 is of the utmost importance. So, talk to your doctor to see if you’re eligible to receive Evusheld (tixagevimab and cilgavimab), the EUA-approved monoclonal antibody combination that’s been somewhat effective in preventing infection by the omicron variant and its sub-variants.