Easter weekend has already set a pandemic-era air travel record in the U.S.

Due to the COVID-19 vaccine becoming more widely available, Easter is the first holiday that many of you can safely gather and finally hug your family members.

On Friday, U.S. air travel set a pandemic-era record with TSA screening more than 1.5 million people at airports.

Many people packed their bags and headed back to Southwest Florida International Airport, some for the first time since the pandemic began.

Evan Mounts came from Ohio. “We were actually here when Ohio started shutting down so a lot of fear and anxiety we weren’t sure if we should travel home at that time. We haven’t been anywhere since then,” said Mounts.

Scott Shirley is from Indianapolis. “It’s been 16 months since we had a vacation so it was long-awaited,” Shirley said.

People have been longing for vacation and now, may finally get to enjoy one. The CDC says that if you’re fully vaccinated, then you’re clear for takeoff. No tests required before the flight and no quarantine required after.

Dr. Rebekah Bernard is the President of the Collier County Medical Society. “It’s very difficult for people to travel and get tested all the time and probably is something that’s not necessary at this point based on what we know about the vaccine, about the vaccine’s effectiveness,” said Dr. Bernard.

The decision comes now that there is more confidence surrounding the vaccine’s effectiveness. However, despite this green light, the CDC is still only encouraging essential travel. So, maybe don’t book those summer vacation flights just yet.

“We’re not quite back to normal yet. It’s a very good sign it’s very positive we still need to be a little reserved a little bit careful,” Dr. Bernard said.

Scott Shirley said he’s close to being fully vaccinated. And, he’s ready to feel less stressed when traveling.

“It’s a lot more pleasing to go on vacation without worrying about some things,” Shirley said.

If you aren’t fully vaccinated, the CDC is still recommending that you get tested prior to traveling and that you quarantine afterward.

Dr. Bernard says that the new guidelines and the effectiveness of the vaccines could be new incentives for those who were previously on the fence to get vaccinated.

Reporter:Zach Oliveri
Writer:Drew Hill
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