Stop Shaming People Who Aren’t Ready To Travel

A year ago people who were traveling – or even talking about or thinking about future travel – were being shamed over the need to stay home and beat the pandemic. Actual flying was safer than what many people might do at home, but airports lack the same HEPA filtration and downward airflow that reduce risk of virus transmission inflight. There was too much uncertainty and too much shut down to travel with confidence to many destinations. And we didn’t know nearly as much about the SARS-CoV-2 virus as we do today.

Now we have remarkably effective vaccines, delivered with historic speed. They protect the vaccinated person to tremendous degree. People often misunderstand, thinking that 95% effectiveness means that 5% of people aren’t protected. What it means is that vaccinated individuals are 95% less likely to get symptomatic Covid-19 than someone who isn’t vaccinated, and their risk may be less than 1 in 3 in a year.

These vaccines also cut down on spread to a remarkable degree. The CDC reports that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 90% effective against infection and not just symptomatic cases two weeks after he second shot. That means individuals who receive these vaccines aren’t a significant threat to others.

As the Director of the CDC said, “vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don`t get sick, and that it`s not just in the clinical trials but it`s also in real world data.”

We’re on the cusp of likely approval of the Pfizer-Modern vaccine for 12-15 year olds. Young children can’t get vaccinated yet, but they’re at statistically lower risk from Covid-19 than vaccinated older Americans.

I’m traveling again, many readers are as well. According to TSA data we’re back to an average of about 60% of 2019 travel levels. But it’s a reasonable choice not to travel, also.

As George Washington University Public Health professor Leanna Wen writes “there is no one-size-fits-all answer.”

On the one hand,

[I]f a family member is severely immunocompromised — for example, an organ transplant recipient taking anti-rejection medications. The vaccines might not protect such people as well, and there is a small chance that vaccinated people can still transmit the coronavirus, so the entire household might consider itself at high risk.

On the other hand,

If all adults are inoculated but the children are not yet, and the kids are generally healthy, I’d consider the household to have a low risk profile overall.

Ultimately, people need to make choices based on their own risk tolerance and values. A grandparent who wants to visit their grandchildren – and who has only so much time left to do so! – shouldn’t be shamed for that choice after they’ve been vaccinated. But someone who doesn’t value travel as much, and may come into contact with immunocompromised people, shouldn’t be faulted for taking a more cautious approach.

Some won’t dine in a restaurant or travel until the level of community transmission is lower. Others will have no concerns resuming all activities as long as they themselves are vaccinated. These are both reasonable decisions. We shouldn’t mock the cautious for taking things at their own pace, nor should we condemn those who engage in activities we might not dare ourselves. After all, vaccinated people pose very little threat to public health; our energy is better spent getting the unvaccinated to get the shots.

While travel shaming may have been understandable at the start of the pandemic, and getting out into the world may make sense for many that have been vaccinated, this is a time for tolerance of others’ risk profiles and preferences since we’re in an ‘in-between space’ where there’s still virus spreading and still people at great risk for it, even as an increasing number of people face very low risk to themselves and others.

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. And stop shaming people who are traveling! And those who get the vaccine. And those who choose to wear a mask.

  2. @ Gary — Fine with me if they never travel again. The less people traveling, the better.

  3. It’s time to open up now that anyone who wants the jab can get it. Time to let the non believers get sick and die. They will either help the survival of the species by surviving or they will go out with the morning trash. I just don’t want to pay for their ER bills. Please die in your cave or your favorite bar and take your gun along incase someone tries to help you.

  4. There’s a difference between shaming people and calling out inaccurate un-scientific nonsense. There are some people who are still taking extreme covid precautions despite new evidence to the contrary. When we didn’t know any better, dipping your groceries in Clorox seemed like a good idea, but now we do know better.

    Case in point: a year of research shows that viral transmission from limited casual contact outdoors (e.g. crossing paths with someone on the sidewalk) is extremely unlikely and is near-impossible among fully vaccinated people. As a result, the CDC has since dropped its recommendation for outdoor mask use for vaccinated individuals with very limited exceptions. I’m fully vaccinated and I no longer wear a mask outside while walking around my neighborhood. However, given the reaction from my holier-than-thou neighbors, you’d think I was a walking plague rat. Some have even stopped to chastise me for my selfishness and I just laugh back at them.

    To be clear, I’m not an anti-masker and I will dutifully wear one whenever required but I’m not going to let un-scientific virtue signaling govern my personal actions.

  5. Seems like we should be anti-vax shaming more than travel shaming. And that I can get on board with.

  6. And stop shaming those who choose to travel and NOT get the vaccine. Free country. The choice is yours – you don’t get to make it for others.

  7. I’m doing all my 2021 travel this summer and fall before flu season starts again (and possibly increasing covid cases depending whether we are able to reach herd immunity or not.)

  8. Not getting vaccinated has nothing to do with a ” Free Country ” . I said good bye to my dying Mother on an Ipad! And no she didn’t die of Covid, it was her time, she was 92 and lived an amazing life, traveled the entire world, broke the glass ceiling more then once and helped everyone who needed help.

    Getting vaccinated is about doing the right thing to protect life and end this pandemic. LISTEN TO SCIENCE ! If life has any value to you, be a man, a woman, a human being and get vaccinated. Only the weak of mind and spirit would say otherwise!

  9. No vaccine for me, traveling full time, domestic and international.

    No interesting in getting it.
    Why would I? My risk is .05% of death from the virus.

    Why would I bother?
    I’m like 10x more like to get in a car accident. It’s not like I stopped using cars in 2020.

    The logic here, is just so lacking.

  10. Gene your doing exactly what Gary is talking about taking a self righteous position on people that just don’t want to travel. Here is an example I am a disabled Vet (USAF flight crew) been to a lot of places my has been used as a pin cushion for years in the service getting shots for anything and everything known to man kind at that point in life. And oh by the way I had an appointment at the local VA medical center for the lingering results of a nasty bug picked up in——. Then in civilian life traveled to counties of conflict as a construction company for .gov now retired I DO NOT wish to travel for at least another year to give this mess a chance to settle down, that’s what real experience tells me. So you can have my seat (2C) and enjoy. Make sure you health plan is paid

  11. Yeah….we have a real winner with these experimental injections….. Not on mainstream of course but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. This is just the European database. I’m not even going to bother posting the UK and USA ones.

    Oh, and just look what is coming or already here?? Self-spreading vaccines. The end is near folks.

  12. Ghostrider, sorry, but you’re the one coming off as self-righteous and Gene isn’t “doing exactly what Gary is talking about.” He’s not shaming anyone for doing or not doing anything. He simply said everyone has the right to travel or not. And the more that choose not to travel due to “risk” of this virus, so much the better for those of us who are traveling as it will be less crowded. So please stop shaming people for being excited that people are free to choose to do what they want to do.

  13. George…you ask why get the vaccine? Aside from the reasons I’m sure you’ve been told, there are some countries where you can’t travel unless you have been fully vaccinated. Maybe those aren’t countries people will want to visit, but for those mad about their freedom being taken away, doesn’t that apply in this case, too?

  14. Gary, stop shaming those who don’t agree with you. Aka those who don’t watch MSNBC.

  15. Self-centered people who choose to risk the lives of relatives, friends, coworkers and the general public by refusing to get vaccinated seem to think the virus that has killed over 580,000 Americans and made millions of others sick is nothing to be concerned about. Until herd immunity is achieved society is not going to get back to the way it was. Vaccine refuseniks prolong the duration of restrictions everyone wants to end.

  16. @john – not going to get to a herd “mentality” (lol, fun times) when near half of Republicans (the QAnon worshipping, MAGA mouth breathing half) aren’t getting vaccinated

  17. I’m sure it makes you feel great to blame this on people who at the this point of this mess refuse to take an experiment injection that was never tested to stop transmission, offer protection, offer immunity, etc…. Those endpoints were never tested. Makers never measured whether antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 virus were produced during trials.

    If you looked at the information package the manufacturers sent to the FDA about reported side effects during the trials it is columns long. People are reporting to VAERS all of the same side effects and it is estimated that only 10% actually report to VAERS. People are dying from these injections all around the world (but not on mainstream), again look at the databases, and the comments are “oh, it is just coincidence”!

    At best, it “may” help lessen symptoms. That is it. Worst case it does nothing and actually causes death and multiple ADR’s, will require a booster before end of year and shots every year going forward, like Pfizer said today. Mainstream, bloggers, youtubers, provaxers can spin this any which way they want but the facts speak for themselves. Go research from the top down.

    What was refused from the beginning were inexpensive, non-patentable treatments that were effective in minimizing the symptoms and building immune system strength to combat this poison. Instead we had politicians who threw our most frail into nursing homes or put them on ventilators. We closed down our health stores, our gyms, our mom and pop restaurants, put masks on our faces that don’t work (people don’t even know how to put it on right), stopped visiting our doctors for important checkups, surgeries and follow-up care. Taken a science project of an 8 year old who made up 6 foot social distancing, said to wear a mask outdoors, even now for our children at playgrounds and summer camps!! But left open our junk food chains, alcohols, kept our grandchildren away, stressed us to the max by bombarding every single day with how many “cases” and deaths that were all classified as Covid. No more flu, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, nothing but Covid.

    I’m sick and tired of paying high insurance costs for overweight, unhealthy, drunks, druggies and couch potatoes who go get their jabs and then flush it down with a free beer and donut. What a sick society we have!

    If you really want to silence and get us all juiced up this is all you have to do and I and all the anti-vaxers will be next in line to get the injection. Call up your leaders, authority figures, manufacturers, politicians and demand once in for all a live, national tv debate between both sides. Doctors, scientists, experts from our side will present our case. Haven’t any of you wondered why a CNN or a Fauci hasn’t offered to do this? What are they scared of??? Isn’t that the American way??? Debate. Not just deplatform, fire, censor, threaten contrarian viewpoints?? Well….the only other choice is this will have to get a lot worse before it gets better. I hope not.

  18. People can stay in their basements forever for all I care. At least in the USA, the shots are available. I really don’t care if people don’t want the vaccine – just don’t shame me for acting like I don’t care anymore because I don’t and really shouldn’t have to.

  19. Haven’t shamed anyone who chooses not to yravel,not to mask or not to vaccinate.

    But sure gotten comments about my traveling internationally several times last year. I SD, wear masks and am now fully vaccinated. I will go where I want so long as it’s not a covid hot spot. The rest can keep their decisions to themselves.

  20. Guess Gary didn’t see the latest Australian study suggesting that the efficacy of these vaccines drop roughly 7% a month and within 7 1/2 months with the best vaccine you are below the international standards of efficacy . J&J starts out at like 63% effective so for those people they are still exposed from the get-go. This is not to say that it is not important to get vaccinated. It is important. This just points out that getting vaccinated doesn’t suddenly mean covid is no longer an issue for you.

  21. I continue to be amazed at the sheer scientific idiocy of the American population at large. The fact that science brought these vaccines in an unbelievably short time is nothing short of miraculous yet we have a ton of people who spout absolute nonsense and don’t get them. All the while, tons of people are dying in countries that can’t get their hands on any vaccine and we now have more doses than we know what to do with. It is truly depressing. Affluenza at large.
    And for all those who don’t want the vaccine, fine. But you’re not getting ANY of my health insurance money when you are in a hospital ICU. Caveat emptor.

  22. @Gerorge — Your logic is correct, but in a hysterical world, almost no one is willing to accept it. Hysterical people aren’t logical.

    @Gary — Stop “overselling” the vaccines. We don’t know everything yet. From what we do know, the risk/’reward seems good for people at higher risk. That’s mostly age-based. Anyone over 65 should probably get vaxed, and you can make a good argument that those over 45 should be vaccinated. Below that age, we really don’t know. It seems like a matter of personal choice. Meanwhile, vaccinating kids who are at zero personal risk (with a vaccine that is still experimental) seems stupid to me, but in a hysterical world, it’s hard to convince people of that.

    Meanwhile, the most vaccinated country in the world is now experiencing a major Covid outbreak. Why? We don’t know. That’s why I recommend not jumping to conclusions.

  23. @chopsticks – when Pfizer gets full authorization from FDA this summer will you stop claiming it’s ‘experimental’?

    Meanwhile your Seychelles argument is silly. A majority of vaccination there is with Sinopharm, which produces weak immune response in some older members of the population (UAE has experimented with a third dose booster already). It’s not comparable to what’s being used in the U.S. Meanwhile from the article you cite “the number of active cases in the nation rose to 1,068 on May 3 from 612 on April 28, according to the health ministry.” Nothing to see here.

    The reason for younger people – not just 45+ and with comorbidities – to get vaccinated is the remarkable job the mRNA vaccines (but not only) do in limiting virus *spread to others* and by suppressing the virus there’s less opportunity for it to mutate.

  24. ISRAEL: According to Central Bureau of Statistics data during January-February 2021, at the peak of the Israeli mass vaccination campaign, there was a 22% increase in overall mortality in Israel compared with the previous year.”

    “In fact, January-February 2021 have been the deadliest months in the last decade, with the highest overall mortality rates compared to corresponding months in the last 10 years.”

    They use the “cream of the crop” Pfizer, since they made a “deal” to obtain them at a discount. Not working out so well. Of course, you won’t hear this on mainstream……

  25. How about Stop Shaming People. Period. Doesn’t the world have enough divisiveness and unkindness already??

  26. Those who travel and think they are immune by vaccination are one variant away from a foreign quarantine and extended overseas health care experiences. Up, up and away. Booster shots and continued mask wearing and social distancing will be needed until durations for vaccine effectiveness are better understood and long term chronic impacts to end points like life expectancy are better understood.
    Those refusing vaccines where available will be the ones who are first to display long term effects from the virus (pulmonary, coronary and stroke) and suffer the most from reduced life expectancies. Good luck with that.

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