There is an exciting new vaccination schedule in the US. What does this mean for travel? I will share my opinion and of course I will find that I am not a doctor, a scientist or anything other than a guy who likes planes and travel.
The US will have enough vaccines for everyone by May
President Biden promised yesterday that the US will have enough vaccines for every American adult by the end of May. Previously, the goal was to have enough vaccines by the end of July, which is a two-month improvement on the schedule.
Three weeks ago, I announced that we would have enough vaccine for all Americans by the end of July.
Now that we try to get production going, we’ll have enough vaccines for every American by the end of May.
– President Biden (@POTUS) March 2, 2021
This follows the approval of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, as well as news that Merck will be working with Johnson & Johnson on manufacturing to bring the vaccines out even earlier.
It’s exciting news to believe that in less than three months all American adults could have started vaccinating.
Before we talk about the effects, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- This distribution timeline isn’t set in stone so I wouldn’t bet any money on it
- Hopefully the coronavirus won’t throw us a big curveball on a new strain that vaccines won’t work against, etc.
- Even if there are enough vaccines for all adults by the end of May, that doesn’t mean you’ll be fine the next day – they take a while to become fully established, and two of the three vaccines require two doses, so it probably will take well over a month from your first shot to your maximum immunity
- Children are not vaccinated with this timeline, so children find themselves with a different situation, especially when it comes to travel
Expect plenty of domestic travel opportunities this summer
Does that mean life will be back to normal?
I am not adding this section because I have special insights here, but because I would like to hear how you feel about it. Assuming this timeline remains, one would certainly hope that life in the US could be back to normal by July 4th (ish) (I mention July to give people some time to make their second Getting a shot and / or building immunity):
- Once everyone who wants to get vaccinated has been vaccinated, it seems that things should go back to normal for the most part in the US
- I am curious to see how quickly mask mandates (including on airplanes) and other restrictions will be lifted
- Even if things get back to normal, I’m not sure my behavior will ever change because it was pretty lovely not even catching a mild cold in the past year – for example, I’m not sure if I ever will Can look fully indoors, gyms, direct contact with others, etc. in the same way
Will indoor dining ever be the same?
What does the vaccination timeline mean for travel?
It sounds like people should be able to travel to the US safely and without feeling guilty within a few months. After all, if you are someone who has hesitated to travel during the pandemic, is this the light at the end of the tunnel that should guide you in planning your summer trip? Yes, I would say so, but only for domestic travel and international destinations that are currently open to tourists. Also, from now on I would only be making refundable plans.
I think international travel will be complicated for a while, especially if the US is one of the first big countries to introduce vaccination on this scale. So many people seem to be thinking, “Oh, if I’m vaccinated, I can go to any country, right?” Unfortunately, don’t expect this to be the case:
- When it comes to travel, it’s not just about getting people vaccinated, it’s also about being able to prove that people are being vaccinated in an internationally recognized way (this “digital passport” concept is not as straightforward as many might assume).
- Even if you are vaccinated, you may need to constantly have coronavirus tests while traveling, as destinations with testing requirements typically don’t do without them for vaccinated individuals
- In many cases, countries choose not to adjust their rules unless the majority of residents are vaccinated as we are unsure about the extent to which those who have been vaccinated can still spread the coronavirus. For example, Phuket is heavily reliant on tourists, but it has been announced that it may only be open to vaccinated travelers as of October, when the majority of Phuket residents have been vaccinated
- This is pure speculation on my part, but personally I would be surprised if the European Union opened to Americans before late summer (it could be earlier but I just don’t see it based on the vaccination timeline over there).
Don’t expect to travel to Australia in 2021
It’s exciting to think that within three months all American adults should have access to coronavirus vaccines. Hopefully this will bring about a return to normal in the US, both in travel and in everyday life.
Personally, however, I wouldn’t be overly optimistic about instant international travel. The places that are already open are likely to remain open, while I wouldn’t expect other borders to open immediately to vaccinated travelers as well.
Given the new vaccination schedule, what are your expectations of how life and travel will change in the coming months?