It’s Time For Most Americans To ‘Jab & Go’

The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority banned Ryanair’s two “Jab & Go” commercials “saying it encouraged the public to act irresponsibly once they have received a coronavirus vaccination shot.” According to the U.K. government,

We considered this could encourage vaccinated individuals to disregard or lessen their adherence to restrictions, which in the short term could expose them to the risk of serious illness, and in the longer term might result in them spreading the virus. As such we considered the ads could encourage people to behave irresponsibly once vaccinated. The ads must not be broadcast again.

While the ‘jab and go’ message wasn’t nuanced, it’s far more true than false. At a minimum, once you’ve waited two weeks past your second dose of either of the two currently-approved mRNA vaccines in the U.S. (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) – the jab part – you can consider the ‘go’ part.

The biggest reasons for a majority of people not to go are the hassles of what activities may not be available at your destination and the increased time and cost of testing, where required.

This view requires pushing back against,

The coronavirus vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective. Vaccinated people may still be contagious. And the virus variants may make everything worse. So don’t change your behavior even if you get a shot.

As this New York Times piece summarizes, “The evidence so far suggests that a full dose of the vaccine — with the appropriate waiting period after the second shot — effectively eliminates the risk of Covid-19 death, nearly eliminates the risk of hospitalization and drastically reduces a person’s ability to infect somebody else. All of that is also true about the virus’s new variants.”

Vaccines do reduce transmission, studies continue on the extent to which transmission is reduced. People can still get the virus but for vaccinated people that largely means getting a far more common respiratory infection (which for some people at a certain age and with certain conditions can be dangerous).

[T]he accumulated scientific evidence suggests the chances are very small that a vaccinated person could infect someone else with a severe case of Covid. (A mild case is effectively the common cold.) You wouldn’t know that from much of the public discussion.

Getting access to vaccines in the U.S. has been a post-apocalyptic scavenger hunt for the past couple of months but that should be changing as more supply comes online, and the people most motivated to get vaccinated have increasingly done so. Soon we’ll be pivoting to trying to get people to take a vaccine rather than not having enough for those who want it.

There’s risk from variants, and the AstraZeneca vaccine in particular appears to have the greatest reduction in effectiveness against the South African strain, but the good news is that to the extent it isn’t more infectious it’s not as likely as the British B.1.1.7 strain to become dominant.

There is a chance of another bump in cases in April but this summer is likely to be very low virus spread in the U.S.

Covid-19 will probably become endemic and manageable, rather than be eliminated. With advances in treatments and with vaccinations (including modifications for new strains and booster shots), the virus doesn’t seem likely to overwhelm the health care system again. And that means we should look to lifting restrictions, educating people about risks, and allowing them to once again make their own decisions. For some, that’ll mean ‘jab and go.’

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Agree with you Gary. One year ago last week was my last flight. Longest I’ve gone in 35 years. Retired, but still kept Delta Platinum. Hopefully, masks will be optional in the foreseeable future

  2. You forget something major. YOU being vaccinated and traveling does not mean all the people in the chain are vaccinated yet. The hotel housekeeper, front desk staff, TSA worker, Flight Attendant, etc all may not yet have been as lucky as you were to be vaccinated. Once we ALL have a chance to have a shot, yes, travel should return. Until then, keep in mind that its not just YOU that are affected by your decisions.

  3. There will be people that want to hold onto the “crisis of covid” because it gives them power to dictate what other people do.
    The vast majority of people understand that covid is on its last leg. People worldwide have taken this disease more seriously than anything in the history of humanity.
    Viruses have limited lifespans.
    Modern science has guided us to a far better response to this disease than anything before.

    For those that see victory, it is time to begin planning celebrations and vacations and reunions.

  4. I agree with you and the NYT. Vaccines are being undersold in ways that mislead, and dangerously so. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people saying that if you’ve been vaccinated you can still transmit the disease. That has certainly not been established. In fact the evidence is that there is little or no risk of a vaccinated person spreading a harmful dose of virus. I believe this will become increasingly clear as data is analyzed; and then as those of us who have been vaccinated become the majority, we will push hard to end restrictions on us. The first reason to get vaccinated is to avoid dying of COVID. The second reason is to get our lives back. We will not long accept living the miserable COVID life when the science establishes it is not necessary.

  5. @joelfreak – those folks are flying or working already, and face little incremental risk from you doing so as well (especially of serious disease)

  6. I’m sorry, but, as a doctor, I have to say that Gary has completely misunderstood the information that he is trying to package.

    This coronavirus is much less stable than any one ever seen before. It mutates rapidly, and the vaccines have highly limited efficacy against the mutations.

    And it still killed at least 1,454 Americans yesterday and 548 Britons. Both of which are catastrophic numbers.

    We have a problem of almost biblical proportions, because even the most rapidly developed jabs in history can’t keep up with the mutations. And unlike the UK and Australia, the US doesn’t even bother to do genomic testing on 99.9% of positive tests, so you have no clue which variants are spreading where. You are literally flying blind.

    And that’s a problem because the Kent mutation in particular is much more dangerous to much younger people, aged 35-55.

    Now is not a time to open up travel, it’s the moment to make it prohibitively expensive ($2500 mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 nights for all passengers on interstate flights) to basically do what Australia did: make the economy work by protecting it from interstate and international travel.

    By all means have a border bubble so someone from East St Louis can travel up to 10 miles into Missouri to get to work.

    But until the US has widespread genomic testing AND vaccines which are effective on mutations, it’s time to stop travel, not increase it.

  7. @Gary I have my first shot, and will have my second before the end of March, however I will more than likely not travel until May or June to let systems recover. You can bet I wont be doing anything risky while traveling however…I will happily wear masks for the protection of everyone for a while. Restpect for 500,000 dead Americans (and many more people worldwide) are well worth a bit of care while we start to return to ‘normal’. Unfortunately there are WAY too many people that will not get a vaccine that will cause ‘normal’ life to come back later than it should.

  8. @DavidF

    Your alarmism/safetyism is the REASON people don’t trust medical professionals as much as they used to.

    ‘Biblical proportions’?
    Are you high?

    99.8% survive.
    That’s not biblical. That’s flu like.

    Cases are dropping so fast, it’s funny.
    I’ve hit almost 30 countries in the last 14 months.
    Flew a few days ago, flying next week.

    The 2nd and 3rd world are desperate for business.
    The harm we have done to these people IS biblical.

    You sound like someone who reads tabloids like NYTimes and Fox News.
    Get a clue. Your alarmism is the reason people don’t trust you.

    A real doctor says things like:
    “160,000 people die a day. less than 2% of those people are dying of Covid.
    Use good judgement if you have co-morbidities, otherwise, live your life”

    You sound like Fauci. A desk driver with no logic, reasoning and understanding of human suffering.
    Thanks for ruining the world for the last year with your hysterics.

    ‘What do they call the person who graduated dead last in his medical class?'”

  9. @DavidF – you are simply mistaken that SARS-CoV-2 “is much less stable than any one ever seen before” have you tracked mutations of the seasonal flu?

    Even though the South African and Brazilian mutations may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines against symptomatic Covid, the mRNA vaccines elicit strong immune responses. Vaccines may see reduced effectiveness at eliminating symptomatic disease but are highly likely to continue to be effective against severe Covid and hosptialization. And there’s no reason to believe at this point that the South African or Brazlian strains will become dominant.

    There’s no materially reduced effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines against the U.K. strain.

  10. The US in unllikely to achieve so called herd immunity due to the number of anti-vaxxers, Karens and people who don’t plan to have the vaccination for whatever reason. There will be simply too many unvaccinated for herd immunity to happen.
    As most of the audience here will probably wish to travel sometime in the near future, you should swiftly reconsider your stance to remain unvaccinated if you wish to travel internationally widely.
    It’s a different ball game out there in the real world. You will find there is much you will be unable to do.
    For maybe the first time, the US passport will be a millstone around your neck as you attempt to travel.

  11. @davidF. Enough with the mutation crap. If you truly are a doctor I hope you realize people like you are doing the medical field a great amount of disservice. Many people will no longer trust medical professions given the absolute hysterics of this pandemic. Now excuse me while I go pack my suitcase for my trip tomorrow.

  12. @Gary
    Seasonal flu is not a coronavirus. The point is that all previous Coronaviruses mutated slowly, and this one mutates fast. Very fast.

    Faster than the vaccines can be adapted.

    We will have a few months when the combination of warmer weather and vaccination against the original strain will give us a misleading but precipitous drop. Rather like the Red Mirage on election night.

    But that will be meaningless unless aggressive efforts – closed borders – are used to make sure that new mutations aren’t imported, and newer mutations in the US don’t spread from state to state.

    Otherwise next winter will be another Holocaust with rampant new strains which are resistant to the old vaccines, and ahead of new ones.

    99.8% survival means nothing.

    Firstly, it’s a complete lie. Half a million deaths and 28 million cases means 1.8% mortality, not 0.2%. You are wrong by 900%.

    Secondly, it’s like 200 9/11s.

    Here in Australia and New Zealand our superior response to the pandemic means that life is normal except for travel. No masks, full stadia, my kids go to the cinema, I go to restaurants.

    But we achieved that by closing our international borders, and our state borders every time we have a community transmission case. As in ONE community transmission case closes state borders!

    We have real freedom – not the freedom to be irresponsible in the middle of an Pandemic.

  13. @Don proudly asserts that he has visited 30 countries in 14 months. And adds that poor countries want American visitors.

    And he minimises this Pandemic, which has killed more Americans that the Second World War, Korean War, Vietnam War and two Gulf Wars combined.

    That’s why countries of varying income levels – from rich Australia to middling Uruguay to poor Vietnam – have protected their economies by keeping people like him out.

    It’s not personal. But it is a matter of live and death – and we’d prefer to survive the pandemic poorer than import unnecessary cases and deaths.

    These countries have maintained their quality of life by closing their borders.

    There is nothing new or special about Covid-19. And nothing new or special about how to control it and defeat it.

    When you have everyone vaccinated, including people from other countries, then allow travel. Until that time, keep everyone in their states and eradicate it – like Melbourne with a population of 5 million did – and ban any travel which could import new cases or new strains.

    There is nothing brave or courageous about travelling in a pandemic. Quite the opposite. To travel during a pandemic is simply sociopathic – people who take international flights now are saying “I’m special and I don’t care whether more vulnerable people get killed or disabled to indulge my selfishness”.

    Lots of nonsense gets spouted as an excuse to allow dangerously premature travel. Rapid testing. Self-isolation. Poorer countries needing our money.

    Ultimately these are just excuses by people who know that they are in a low-risk age group and don’t care about who they kill along the way with their unnecessary travels.

    I’m a top tier frequent flyer with two airlines. I’m a top tier frequent guest with three hotel chains. My elderly parents live in another country.

    But I accept that it’s currently unacceptable to travel, and that living through a pandemic is the same as living through a war – you have to sacrifice personal freedoms for the greater good.

    And you have to avoid using flimsy pretexts like rapid testing or vaccination of 0.52% of the population as a pretext for irresponsible travel.

  14. As a physician I respectfully disagree with DavidF in labeling all travel irresponsible. I believe that responsible travel can occur if everyone who is vaccinated washes their hands, masks up, and practice social distancing wherever possible. In fact, at this point, the people who have been vaccinated (healthcare and essential workers) tend to be more cautious when it comes to such precautions.

    Preliminary vaccine data shows that vaccinated individuals have a drastically lower risk of spreading the disease. If we can pair that effectively with a mandatory testing regimen and continuation of hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing, I think that the risk of viral transmission will be exceedingly low and I do believe that international travel can reopen safely.

    I think that eventually we will find that a certain proportion of individuals would be unvaccinated not because of a lack of vaccine but because of an unwillingness/apprehension to do so. Another upside to giving some sort of benefits to vaccinated individuals as a society would be to encourage others to get vaccinated as well.

    Yes, countries like Australia, New Zealand and Singapore have opted to pursue a “zero tolerance” type of policy where one imported case is one too many. That is their own prerogative but we should understand that any restriction will have real and tangible trade-offs.

    Looking at TSA checkpoint data, we see that the daily number of travelers have been hovering between 500,000 to 1 million since as far back as 2H2020, but the new case count has seen a sustained downtrend. Given all this encouraging developments, it is probably a good time to think about how we can safely reopen travel.

  15. The truth is somewhere in the middle of what everyone is saying and also the truth is we are learning about this virus as we go. I am ready to travel whenever I can get fully vaccinated. I will travel internationally whenever that occurs and the countries I want to visit allow me in without quarantine. There should come a point where vaccinated people do not have to wear masks. Why? Because even information coming out just today shows that vaccinated people probably are not spreading the virus. Do we keep wearing masks just because others have to? And by that I mean in the next few months, here in the USA, most people will be able to get the vaccine. After that time, I feel no particular need to protect those who refuse to get the vaccine.

  16. “the virus doesn’t seem likely to overwhelm the health care system again. And that means we should look to lifting restrictions” The medical community is very concerned about the variants going around triggering another surge in the next couple of weeks. People rushing out to travel in large numbers will certainly cause variants to spread across the country and trigger a surge. Also studies are coming out saying even people with minor cases of covid are showing long term effects. People who keep pushing for the lifting off the minimal restrictions that exist here don’t seem to ever get it no matter how many surges we go through. We are still seeing average daily death counts in the US at the same levels we had last spring during the first peak, so how is now the time to lift restrictions at this point? Nonsense. People can’t even get the vaccines yet and many won’t be able to for several months.

  17. @DavidF, I’d really love to see where you’re getting the idea that SARS-CoV2 is mutating faster than other coronaviruses.

    But even if you’re right that it is mutating more quickly than other coronaviruses, that is largely irrelevant, and your hyperbole is damaging to your reputation and that of other medical professionals. SARS-CoV2 is mutating at less than half the rate of typical influenza viruses and less than 1/4 the rate of HIV. Nearly ALL of the medical and research literature I have read on this specific topic indicates that vaccines will likely have long-lasting efficacy because of the low mutation rate of SARS-CoV2 compared to other significant viruses.

  18. Don,

    The savior complex act is an interesting one given the poor are doing poorly in poor countries even at the best of times for tourism in poor countries .

    Will you let us know when you fly to Bangladesh to save the poor there with your tourism dollars and bread crumbs and then return to the US to save them from the harms arising from so much fossil fuel use by the most privileged members of the human species?

  19. I just returned from the Galapagos Islands. I was lucky to get vaccinated very early after having a minor bout with COVID in November. The reality of this trip was: 3 COVID tests, one before I left, one in mainland Ecuador for the Galapagos, and one back in mainland Ecuador after the Galapagos required for return to the US. While in the Galapagos I learned that most of the resident population (between 20-30 thousand people) got COVID early on. They had a very low serious case/death rate. Masks are required in public in Ecuador but I had multiple conversations with people in the hospitality industry during my week about the fact that just about everyone is post-COVID and the risk of an outbreak is close to nil. In fact, no one knew of any significant problem in months. People generally did wear masks in town, but no one expected a person hiking a volcano, snorkeling, or on a boat to wear a mask. I was also thanked a lot for being there. The Galapagos thread a small eye of a needle–over tourism is bad for the ecosystem but tourist dollars/park fees contribute greatly to maintaining the ecosystem and saving many endangered species.
    So bottom line for me, not all travel, even vacation travel, is bad. Being responsible and respectful goes a long way. Also, I discussed with several respected medical doctors before I Ieft about this whole “still have the virus after being vaccinated” thing. Across the board, the opinion was that its just not an issue. Already, you are seeing the messaging back away from that hypothetical as many others are realizing that hypothesizing a virus could still be present after vaccination has been having the effect of people not wanting to get vaccinated–the “why bother” excuse.

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