Vaccinated, but still uncertain
If the uncertainty of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the unlikelihood that any travel that happens this year will be similar to the “normal” of pre-pandemic times.
“Many of my colleagues in the travel industry are looking at the vaccine as a silver bullet to the situation,” said James Ferrara, president and co-founder of InteleTravel, a global host travel agency. “I don’t think that the science backs that yet.”
Indeed, travel planning isn’t necessarily more straightforward for those who have already been vaccinated. Loren Riskin, an anesthesiologist based in San Francisco, was vaccinated in January. Dr. Riskin, 37, is largely basing her willingness to travel on the current state of the pandemic in California.
“There’s some data to suggest that, if you’re vaccinated, you can still be an infectious carrier. And here in the Bay Area, we are still in a pretty dire place,” she said. “My travel plans, which right now are mostly daydreams, are much more based on what public health officials and leadership have said our system can tolerate, rather than my own direct risk.” (Currently, California’s state directives encourage residents to avoid nonessential travel and to self-quarantine for 10 days upon returning home.)
Bill Jirsa and his wife, of Georgetown, Texas, are both fully vaccinated. Last fall, optimistic about the announcement of viable vaccines, Mr. Jirsa, 79, rebooked a land tour of Sicily, originally scheduled in 2020, for May. He also booked a cruise around the Caribbean and Brazil in the fall. Plus, there was an annual golf trip in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his brother and two friends. But receiving his second shot late last month didn’t provide the feeling of confidence and safety he hoped for.
“We’re just not comfortable with the current situation. Nobody can tell us that we can’t carry the virus and give it to someone else; no one knows for sure what the shots do with these new variants,” he said. “Nobody likes the unknown. So how can you plan when there’s so much you can’t plan for?”
The couple has decided to, again, cancel all of their international travel plans, and received refunds for flights from Delta and Alitalia. Mr. Jirsa feels more comfortable with the idea of the Arizona golf trip, but his brother and friends are facing resistance from their families who have young children and are concerned about transmission of the virus. But the golf group is determined to play next year, if not this fall.