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Travel surge expected this weekend as COVID vaccination rate climbs

▶ Watch Video: Vaccination rates up as Americans travel for holiday

After more than a year of lockdowns, bad weather in the U.S. is not going to stop Americans from heading out this Memorial Day weekend. 

AAA says more than 37 million people are expected to travel more than 50 miles this weekend — a 60% increase over last year, when much of the country was still under lockdown orders. The rise is expected despite the highest gasoline prices on Memorial Day in seven years. The average price of a gallon of regular is now just north of $3.

The travel surge is due in large part to an increasing number of people who are vaccinated against the coronavirus. Just over half of all Americans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 40% are fully vaccinated.

From coast to coast, some health officials are set up and ready to vaccinate people where they plan to relax. 

In New York, one mobile vaccination van was perfectly situated for Marija Ravani and her daughters, Michael George reports for “CBS This Morning: Saturday.” “I was waiting for them to do it,” Ravani said. ” So as soon as I heard they were doing it for 12 and 14-year-olds, I was like, ‘OK, why not?'”

The effort to meet people where they live made the difference for David McCallum.

“Because they’re here and someone knocked on my door … I said, ‘It must be meant to be. Let me go get a shot,'” said the Rockaway, New York, resident.  

Scott Orlanski, CEO of Centers Urgent Care, said bringing the vaccine to the people is “going to get us to where we need to be.”

Just about half of U.S. adults are still not fully vaccinated, but the number who are is within distance of President Biden’s goal of having 70% of American adults vaccinated by July 4th.

“We have to reach those who are not vaccinated and make it as easy as possible for them to get protected,” President Biden said. 

It is a place-by-place, state-by-state process.

“I’m proud to say that 66% of Virginia adults have had their first shot,” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Friday. 

Vermont leads the nation, with almost 50% of its population fully vaccinated.

“As more people get vaccinated they’re becoming more comfortable with the idea of travel but there’s still some travel hesitancy,” said Andrew Gross, spokesperson for AAA’s National – D.C. Office.

And with good reason, according to Dr. Aileen Marty.

“I am very concerned about people who are not vaccinated, who think that because the rates are down, they’re off the hook, they don’t need to get vaccinated, and they’re not going to get sick,” said Marty. “They’re wrong. They could very well get sick. They could very well end up in the hospital. They could die.”

The expected surge in travel is still lower than pre-pandemic levels. AAA expects weekend travel will be down 13% compared to 2019. 

And while the U.S. is expected to see a “huge” increase in travel by air, according to AAA, most people who are hitting the road — more than 9 in 10 Memorial Day travelers — will be driving, “as many Americans continue to substitute road trips for travel via planes, trains and other modes of transportation.”

AAA says Orlando and Las Vegas are this year’s top Memorial Day destinations, for both AAA Travel bookings and TripTik road trip searches. 

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