Life after COVID-19 vaccination

By Carolyn Ali

An illustration showing life after the COVID-19 vaccine, including children visiting with grandparents and a plane leaving for a vacation destination
Photo illustration: iStock/Pexels/UBC

Vaccine expert Anna Blakney addresses travel and transmission after vaccination

The University of British Columbia’s Dr. Anna Blakney researches RNA vaccines at UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratories & School of Biomedical Engineering. Every day, she fields questions about vaccines from her 211.3K followers on her TikTok channel.

Below, Dr. Blakney answers some common questions, in a nutshell.

Is it okay to travel once I’m vaccinated?

“Travel is going to be pretty complicated,” says Dr. Blakney. “It’s really important to think not just about your country getting vaccinated. It’s really about vaccinating the whole world.”

Until we have herd immunity, it’s important that we take precautions against transmission. And while infection rates may be low in the area you live, they may be higher where you travel.

“The risk is that if you travel to a place with a much higher number of circulating infections and you’re not perfectly protected from the virus from the vaccine, then there’s still a chance that you could get it and bring it back and reintroduce it to the population,” Dr. Blakney explains.

Most clinical trials just looked at prevention of severe disease; they didn’t study whether getting the vaccine reduces your chances of transmitting it to others. There’s a lot we still don’t know.

It makes sense that vaccines would reduce transmission, Dr. Blakney says, but we don’t have much data yet. The Oxford-AstraZeneca trial did study transmission, and results showed the vaccine reduces transmission by 67 per cent.

Find the latest province-wide restrictions on travel here.

Is it safe to visit my elderly relatives indoors once they are vaccinated?

Since you won’t know if your relatives have developed antibodies against the virus, or if you can transmit the virus to them and vice versa, physical distancing and mask precautions are still advised. As more people are vaccinated, and infection rates go down, Dr. Blakney says that these precautions will likely be relaxed in the future.

Find the latest public health orders on gatherings here and information on precautions after vaccination here.

Learn more: COVID-19 vaccinations, pregnancy and kids

Carolyn Ali is a writer for UBC’s Brand and Marketing. This article was published March 5, 2021.
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