Americans taking holiday vacation should get COVID-19 booster two weeks before travel

Health officials are urging eligible Americans to receive the COVID-19 booster shot before embarking on holiday travel.
Health officials are urging eligible Americans to receive the COVID-19 booster shot before embarking on holiday travel. Photo credit Getty Images

As winter approaches, health officials are urging Americans to receive the COVID-19 booster shot before embarking on holiday travel.

Individuals who plan to visit family in the next few months or take a long-awaited vacation should receive the booster shot at least two weeks before traveling, if they are eligible, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious diseases professor at UCSF, told KCBS Radio's "Ask an Expert."

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"You're not going to see a lot of guidelines about the timing, but two weeks is the best time to prime the immune system," he said.

For college students who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and plan to return home during holiday break, Chin-Hong strongly advised that they receive the booster before reuniting with family.

"What we've been seeing overtime is that people with J&J really need protection sooner rather than later and the college campus is a real nexus of people getting together," he explained. "We really don't know what will happen in winter, so I would ask them to get it at the college campus or clinic."

Millions of Americans were made eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster shot after new guidance was released by the CDC on Thursday. Recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have the widest eligibility with health officials recommending that people 18-years-old or older who got their shot more than two months ago receive the extra dose.

Individuals should now be able to make booster shot appointments at local drugstores, Chin-Hong said, explaining that all you do is call up and self-attest as to why you are eligible for the booster.