Vaccine Travel

“Business or pleasure?” That’s the question you usually get when you tell someone you’re traveling. If the answer is pleasure, it is likely the trip is to discover the cultural, natural, culinary, or educational aspects of a new country. For business it’s likely for an important meeting or conference. Slightly more unusually, perhaps you’d even heard of birth tourism, to obtain citizenship for the child, or medical tourism, where patients travel to other countries to get medical assistance or treatments of better quality or price. But ever since the outbreak of COVID, a brand new category of travel has been popularized – vaccine travel. 

At the start of the pandemic, after a vaccine was developed, the priority was for countries to secure a steady supply of doses for their own populations, particularly the most vulnerable. However, soon vaccine production ramped up, vaccines became readily available, and the number of vaccinated people increased in many countries, leaving plenty of extra doses to go around. As a result several countries decided to take advantage of their abundant supply to offer a new and attractive reason to encourage tourism following waves of lockdowns and devastating years for the tourism industries.

Besides the United States, famous tourist destinations like Indonesia, the Maldives, and Russia all offer visitors the chance to get vaccinated during their trip, to then safely enjoy all the attractions and entertainment the countries have to offer. 

Vaccine Travel in New York

In the United States, many cities and states are now incentivizing travelers with free COVID vaccinations. New York in particular has been a major destination for vaccine travel. Since May 2021, New York has been vaccinating travelers aged 16 and older at vaccination hubs throughout the city. These vaccination spots coincide with many major landmarks such as Times Square, the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Yankee Stadium, the American Museum of Natural History, and even the iconic Central Park to name a few. This makes life very easy for visitors, who can grab a coffee, get a shot, and enjoy the most popular attractions in the city all in one quick and convenient trip!

What do you need to get vaccinated?

The mobile vaccination hubs placed at spots throughout the city offer tourists the quick and easy one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The great thing about it is how simple and efficient the whole process is. Just show up at one of the city-run sites, or alternatively at a pharmacy like Walgreens or CVS, show your ID to prove your age, and get dosed! You don’t need to show any proof of citizenship or residency, no social security number, and you don’t even need to make a prior appointment. It literally could not be simpler.

Why get vaccinated in New York?

After waves of lockdowns that essentially shut down the city for nearly three years, New York is back and better than ever. Shops, restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment are all open again and visitors are flocking back to enjoy them. However, for those who plan to be out and about, remember that certain COVID and vaccine requirements still apply. While there is no federal or state level vaccine mandate, private businesses and venues are able to set their own vaccine policies. This means that whenever you go into a restaurant, bar, gym, or other store in New York, you may still be required to show your proof of vaccination. This includes some major tourist spots, like on Broadway for example, where you’ll not only need to wear a mask, but you’ll also need to be vaccinated to see a performance.

Similarly, COVID masking regulations apply in many public places, like on the subway or other public transport, or in businesses that require it. So from a dual perspective, getting vaccinated in New York is the way to go – from a convenience perspective, to avoid being turned away from New York’s amazing restaurants and entertainment, and from a health perspective to protect yourself in the densely populated crowds and busy streets of the city. 

COVID testing in New York

Before getting the vaccine, or just as part of your trip regardless of your vaccination status, you may want to get tested for COVID. You’ll be reassured to learn that COVID testing is widely available throughout New York. Testing sites are found at almost every corner – at SUNY college campuses, public libraries, pharmacies, mobile centers, hospital and health centers. Most testing sites also offer rapid antigen tests, so you can even get your results on the same day and get on with your itinerary. Or if you’re feeling extra lazy, roll up to a drive thru testing site from the convenience of your own car. Just visit the New York Department of Health COVID-19 testing website to search for a testing location near you.

What’s more, at any state-run test site in New York testing is completely free – so rather than spend on this you can save to splurge a nice night out instead. If you go however to a test site operated by local governments, private companies (like some pharmacies and medical practices or not-for-profit organizations) it would be wise to first check with the testing site and with your insurance to ensure you won’t be charged a testing fee. 

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