Saint Nicholas, CA – Nov 8, 2021 – People planning to travel and attend gatherings during the upcoming holiday season need to take steps now to protect themselves from COVID-19 and ensure they have the correct documents that some destinations, airlines and events require to prove their vaccination or testing status.
People who have not been vaccinated should avoid travel and holiday gatherings, said Dr. Sundari Mase, the public health officer for Sonoma County, citing guidelines recently issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Unvaccinated people who want to get together for Thanksgiving should be vaccinated immediately. It takes two weeks to be fully protected from COVID-19 after receiving the J&J/Janssen single-dose vaccine or your second dose of the two-injection Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. Doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are delivered 21 days apart; doses of the Moderna vaccine are delivered 28 days apart.
“There is still time to get vaccinated before the holidays, but you have to act quickly,” Mase said. “Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect you, your family and your friends from being infected with COVID-19. We don’t want to see another rise in cases like we saw over the holidays last year. Now that safe and effective vaccines are widely available, we can avoid the heartbreaking suffering and death that so many endured last year.”
The CDC recommends that everyone ages 5 and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their age group. All three FDA-approved vaccines are safe and effective, dramatically reducing the risk of serious illness and death.
Last week, children ages 5 to 11 were eligible for a pediatric formulation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, giving families another tool to protect loved ones over the holidays. Doses for young children are now available in Sonoma County, initially prioritized for populations at highest risk for complications from COVID-19. To find a dose, parents are encouraged to contact their pediatrician or local pharmacy. Vaccination clinics will also be established in schools for populations that do not have easy or affordable access to health care. For information, visit the Sonoma County Office of Education website.
Most clinics and pharmacies accept walk-ups from people 12 years and older looking for a first or second dose. Residents can find information about vaccine clinics and how to make appointments through the county’s vaccination clinic page or at myturn.ca.gov. Residents who require assistance making an appointment are encouraged to call the County’s Covid-19 Hotline at (707) 565-4667.
Unvaccinated people should wear masks indoors at all times and maintain social distancing of 6 feet (1.8 meters) when meeting people outside their immediate family. The mask, which should be at least two-layer and preferably three-layer, should cover your nose and mouth.
Regardless of vaccination status, people must wear masks indoors in public places. Everyone, even people who have been fully vaccinated, is obliged to wear a mask on public transport and to follow international travel advice.
If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, do not travel, host or attend a meeting. Get tested if you have symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Check yourself for symptoms for 14 days after participating in holiday celebrations and activities. Pay special attention from day 3-7 as this is the time when people are most likely to develop symptoms.
Some destinations and events require a COVID-19 test or vaccination certificate. Research your destination or event requirements now to ensure you are prepared. Arriving at a gate without acceptable test results can cost you time and frustration and could lead to you missing your flight or event. Not all COVID-19 test providers are approved for travel testing or can guarantee test results in time for your trip or event. Before scheduling your COVID-19 test, check with your testing provider to see if it meets the required test result certification and timelines for your travel, destination, or event.
CDC guidelines for travel can be viewed here. Other suggestions if you are planning to travel:
Test to travel
If a COVID-19 test is required by your destination or airline, determine when it should be scheduled to meet their requirements, usually 48 or 72 hours before boarding. PCR tests can typically provide results within 24 to 48 hours, but result times vary and some can take up to a week. Antigen tests provide results within 15 minutes, but are considered less accurate. Check with your airline or destination to determine what testing is allowed, what documentation of test results is required, and more information about onsite testing options. Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule an appointment.
Standard COVID-19 testing in Sonoma County is free and confidential. Information is available at socoemergency.org/test. Some major pharmacies do travel tests for a fee.
Proof of vaccination to travel
Check with your airline or destination to determine if a vaccination certificate is required and, if so, what documentation they will accept.
Request a digital copy of your California vaccination record as soon as possible at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov. If there are issues with the digital vaccine file, it can take two to three weeks to resolve. Use the help mechanism at chat.myturn.ca.gov to resolve any issues. You must upload an image of your vaccine card and an image of your state-issued ID to use this system.
Keep your vaccination card safe; make copies and save photos of your card on your mobile phone. If you have lost your vaccination card and you get an error message in your digital file, ask your GP to provide you with a copy of your vaccination booklet. This document lists all of your vaccinations, not just your COVID-19 vaccination. It’s not clear whether this document is sufficient evidence of COVID-19 vaccine status for travel, but it may help the state of California resolve issues with your digital vaccine record.
For more information, including the latest vaccine numbers, who is eligible for a vaccine, and how to get a vaccine, visit SoCoEmergency.org/vaccine or call 2-1-1.