Many Americans might be debating the best way to travel, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to advise against nonessential trips. Six infectious-disease researchers and doctors told The NY Post whether flying or driving is the preferred method at this stage of the pandemic. Consider factors such as distance, airport and plane crowds and the people you will come into contact with en route.
In his first interview since being confirmed as the top U.S. health official, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said a new government strategy to vaccinate those affected by disparities will include bringing shots to the public — including on farms, construction zones and other work sites to meet people where they are.
“We now have three COVID-19 vaccines, and all three are safe and effective,” said Sandra Fryhofer, MD, an Atlanta general internist who serves as the AMA’s liaison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Dr. Fryhofer also is a member of ACIP’s COVID-19 Vaccine Work Group.
Whether it is Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J), “ACIP has expressed no preference for any of these three authorized vaccines,” she said. What is preferred is to “get vaccinated as soon as you can, when it’s your turn, and with whichever vaccine is available. That’s how we’re going to end this pandemic.”
“The companies really have done a good job in trying to mirror their study to represent the real world,” said Dr. Fryhofer. “Everything just happened a lot quicker than what we’re used to, which is good. Now the next thing we’ve got to do is our job and take advantage of this gift that’s been given us.”
Editor’s note: We took the route back to NJ: Rt 75 north to Rt 10 east to Rt 95 north. We had been watching the weather report and canceled our first plan when we saw a forecast for rain and maybe tornadoes. The trip took about 20 hours not counting stopping.
As we get older, we find the auto trip to be increasingly exhausting to the point where other problems can flare such as fluctuating blood pressures and motion sickness with dizziness or loss of balance.
And you can develop musculoskeletal complaints such as cramps in your legs, ankles or feet. Or eye symptoms such as blurry vision or dry eye. Bring lubricating eye drops with you.
Also the stress on your upper body can cause chest, shoulder or arm discomfort which might be scary if you know that a heart issue can cause arm and shoulder discomfort. If you feel such pain, see if it is tender to the touch or positional. That usually suggests a musculoskeletal cause. Massage, changing position, and getting out of the car to walk can help.
If you bring food, take easy-to-digest items such as egg salad or turkey sandwiches. Avoid fried or fatty foods on the road. Avoid restaurants if you can. Carry some Pepcid or antacids such as Gaviscon–both are over the counter. Bring a cooler with water to prevent dehydration which can sneak up on you.
If you must go to a restaurant, don’t go in unless they are practicing distancing. Use masks when around others, such as in the stores at gas stations and when in public toilets. Wash your hands after such visits. It’s easy to forget. Keep a box of masks and rubber gloves in the car. Use the latter when you are handling those gas filling handles. And use disinfectant wipes or solutions handy.
And take these precautions even if you have been vaccinated.
Don’t forget not to miss any doses of your medications, especially critical ones such as blood pressure or heart drugs. If you miss a dose and you realize it, take it even if you are 2-3 hours late; otherwise skip it and resume your usual doses.
It’s easy to be distracted by driving. Driving is stressful, so make sure you stop for rests, and if you feel sleepy, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Even a brief nap can turn that around. Keep a thermos of coffee or tea for the caffeine boost.
Bring glass cleaner for the windshield visibility, and keep your glasses clean. Avoid night driving since that can be dangerous for seniors especially in congested areas where turning, changing lanes, and need for peripheral vision become prominent.
Stopping at official rest stops usually allows safe and clean facilities.
And if you have a pre-existing condition, it might flare on route. That is scary, but if you have to, go to the nearest emergency room. That’s no fun, especially in a strange place with no friends or family around.
We plan to fly next time.
Paul Goldfinger, MD
ELISA’S THEME From the soundtrack of The Shape of Water.