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HCA Healthcare’s guide to stay healthy during holiday travel

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If you’re looking to make holiday travel plans this season, HCA Healthcare wants you to keep a few things in mind as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Most importantly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. Since you may be asked to provide proof of your vaccination status, travel with your vaccination card. If you’re not vaccinated against COVID-19, immunocompromised or have children who are too young to be vaccinated, it’s essential to adhere to travel precautions and to refrain from traveling when possible.

Based on guidance from the CDC here are five tips worth following when traveling during COVID-19:

1. Check guidance for your destination before you leave

If you’re traveling within the United States, you should check the local public health restrictions at your destination, as they may differ from the rules currently in place where you live. In general, practice extra caution if you’re venturing through or toward areas of high community transmission. These regions can be tracked through the CDC’s county-by-county map.

For international travel, check for any specific travel restrictions in your destination country. Before coming back to the United States, you’ll need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test no more than three days before travel or proof that you’ve recovered from COVID-19 within the past three months. This rule applies to everyone, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated individuals.

Related article: COVID-19 vaccine booster shots and additional doses: what we currently know

2. Pack masks and hand sanitizer

Family walking through passageway in airport with luggage

You might want to pack a few extra masks and hand sanitizers for yourself and your family members. Hand sanitizer is good for when you’re unable to properly wash your hands while on the go.

Regardless of vaccination status, wearing a face covering on public transportation is required, including planes, trains and buses. You’ll also be required to mask up at airports and other travel stations. Some areas may also require masking outside at certain events or venues, so always travel with your face covering just in case.

3. Choose safer travel options for unvaccinated children

If you’re traveling with kids who are too young to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, check the CDC’s page regarding safer travel options for this potentially vulnerable group. Some ways to make travel safer include taking short day trips with fewer stops for gas or food, staying in a private vacation rental instead of a hotel and getting takeout instead of dining in restaurants. In general, it’s best for unvaccinated children to only come into contact with fully vaccinated people.

Related article: The 2021-2022 flu shot season: 4 things you need to know

4. Continue safe practices

Don’t let vacation be an excuse to get careless about COVID-19 precautions; if anything, you should be even more diligent about health and safety when away from home. For example, maintain social distance from others not in your travel group, cover your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze, and regularly clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.

5. Watch out for COVID-19 symptoms and make a plan for if you get sick

Stay on high alert for any COVID-19 symptoms, including but not limited to fever, cough, shortness of breath or fatigue. Pack a thermometer so you can check the temperature of anyone who feels feverish. Check your insurance ahead of time for any providers who may be in-network at your destination, so if someone in your travel party develops COVID-19 symptoms, you can get them to a medical provider.  

If someone has emergency symptoms, including trouble breathing, lasting chest pain or pressure, confusion, difficulty staying awake or pale or blueish lips, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Did you know? HCA Healthcare is comprised of more than 183 hospitals and approximately 2,000 ambulatory sites of care, including surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers and physician clinics, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Find a HCA Healthcare facility near you.

Keep safety top-of-mind this holiday travel season

We’re all eager to move past the pandemic and get back to normal life with loved ones. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still with us and may continue to linger for some time. Right now, the best way to safely travel is to be fully vaccinated while continuing to take precautions — from mask-wearing and social distancing to frequent handwashing.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 186 hospitals and more than 2,000 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our approximately 275,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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