(RxWiki News) Spreading good cheer isn't the only thing people do around the holidays. Many families travel, and that brings with it a unique set of health and safety concerns.
Here's how to keep your winter travel safe and healthy.
COVID Travel Concerns
Many people thought COVID-19 would be less of a concern by the time the holidays rolled around. But new variants and continued spread of the virus have kept the pandemic front and center for many families' holiday travel plans.
Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put together a set of recommendations for travelers:
- Do not travel until you are fully vaccinated (two weeks after your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine).
- Wear a mask while on all forms of public transportation, including planes, airports, buses and trains. This is currently required.
- Don't travel if you have tested positive for COVID-19, feel sick or have been exposed to someone with COVID.
- Check the COVID-19 situation at your destination before you leave. If cases are surging, consider delaying your trip.
Check Your Medications Before Jetting Off
Don’t forget to pack all of your medications to take with you. That includes prescriptions and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Make sure you have enough medications to last your entire trip. You may want to pack more than you think you need just in case unexpected events delay your return. Better to be safe than sorry — especially if you’re traveling abroad.
If you are flying to your destination, pack your medications in your carry-on rather than in your checked bag. There's always a chance that your checked bag won't make it to your final destination.
Take a Look at Travel Conditions
If you are planning to drive somewhere over the holidays, it's a good idea to check the weather before you pull out of the driveway. Snowy and icy conditions can make road travel extremely dangerous. Icy conditions can lead to wrecks and even cause traffic backups that leave you in freezing cold temperatures for hours.
Before you travel, pack an emergency kit for your vehicle. Recommended items include non-perishable food, water bottles, jumper cables, roadside flares, sleeping bags, blankets, a shovel and sand or cat litter to create tire traction in the event that your vehicle becomes stuck.
Also, make sure your car is in the right condition to travel in winter weather. Ensure that your car is up to date on routine maintenance and that your tires are in good condition.
Do not allow your gas tank to become close to empty while you are traveling. This helps ensure that you can keep the car running for heat, but make sure you only keep the car running for 10 minutes of every hour you are stuck and that you routinely clear any snow from the tailpipe. A blocked tailpipe can lead to carbon monoxide exposure inside the car.
Verify Your Travel Vaccinations
The COVID vaccine may be the first to come to mind, but you may need to get more than one vaccine before you travel. The recommended vaccinations will depend strongly on where you will be visiting.
Visit your health care provider at least four to six weeks before you travel. Based on the places you will be visiting on your trip, your health care provider will tell you which vaccines are recommended and can offer you these particular vaccines for your travel destinations.
Receiving your vaccinations at least four to six weeks before you travel is important because you may require a vaccine series (more than one vaccine), and it gives your body enough time to build up effective protection.
If your health care provider does not offer travel vaccines, you may need to visit a travel clinic.
Check to see if the yellow fever vaccination is recommended or required for the places you will be visiting. If you need the yellow fever vaccine, it can only be offered by a registered provider and must be administered at least 10 days before travel.
Finally, follow up with your health care provider or travel clinic when you return from your trip.
Speak with your local community pharmacist about all of your travel health needs.