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The efforts of researchers and public health officials in developing safe and successful COVID-19 vaccines was nothing short of historic. Vaccines typically take years to develop, but a combination of factors enabled researchers to make COVID-19 vaccines available to vulnerable populations by December 2020, or roughly nine months after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic.

Researchers had already conducted years’ worth of vaccine research on human coronaviruses, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes were first identified in the mid-1960s. That research proved invaluable as pharmaceutical companies raced to produce COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, a less linear approach to testing and vetting vaccines than was traditionally applied in past outbreaks enabled the vaccine to be rolled out more quickly, potentially saving millions of lives.

Men and women over the age of 65 were among the first groups to be given the COVID-19 vaccine. Many people within that group are retired and had looked forward to traveling, only to have those plans interrupted by the pandemic. Now that they’re fully vaccinated, seniors are setting their sights on travel once again. Though the COVID-19 vaccines have made vulnerable groups like seniors less likely to suffer severe illness from the virus, there’s still a few things adults over 65 should know when making travel plans.

The virus

Data from the CDC indicated that more than 87 million people in the United States had been fully or partially vaccinated as of April 20, 2021. Among those, just 7,157 had become infected with COVID-19, and only 331 of those required hospitalization. That’s an encouraging figure that illustrates just how effective the vaccines are at preventing infection and serious illness. Recognizing that efficacy may help calm any concerns fully vaccinated seniors have about traveling.

Restrictions

Though a significant portion of the eligible populations in the United States and Canada had been fully or partially vaccinated by mid-spring, overseas travel restrictions may still be in place. Some countries, such as India, continued to confront devastating waves of the virus and may not be allowing overseas visitors anytime soon. In addition, in mid-spring the European Union was still devising a strategy to allow fully vaccinated foreign tourists to visit the continent. Proposals suggested such travel could be allowed by late June, but it’s important that seniors learn of any potential restrictions before booking trips.

Attractions

When planning a trip, seniors may want to look for areas with plenty of outdoor attractions. The CDC continues to recommend that people, even those who are fully vaccinated, gather outdoors, where the virus is less likely to be transmitted. When traveling, seniors may be spending time around people who have not yet been vaccinated, and despite the efficacy of the vaccines, that might make some travelers nervous. So choosing locales with plenty of outdoor attractions can be a great way to quell any travel-related concerns seniors may have.

The remarkable achievements of researchers involved in developing COVID-19 vaccines has helped seniors return to something resembling normal life. Seniors with their eyes on travel can safely book trips after doing some research about their destination and giving careful consideration to their comfort levels.

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