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Safe travel for elderly mom

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Ask the Doctor Question:

My 91-year-old mom with treatment naïve CLL really wants to go to her home in Florida for the winter. I am really trying to figure out a safe way to give her the one thing she really wants after two years of isolation. She is afraid at her age she will never see it again!

We know she cannot fly commercial and private charters would be fast but still put us in a small space with a pilot for several hours. Do you think it would be safe to rent an RV and take our own food, utensils, and linens? The trip would take us about 3 days from Boston to South Florida.

Alternatively, we also thought of driving our own car and renting Airbnb rentals for the overnights (and renting them a day in advance so they would be empty for 24 hours before we arrive).

Any suggestions or should I tell her it can’t be done safely?

Answer: It sounds like you have been thinking through all the possible options to help your mom mitigate as many risks as possible. Nothing is risk-free, with the exception of maybe staying home 100% of the time and not seeing anyone, which isn’t practical long‑term. Driving is always going to be much preferred to airline travel. That being said, Florida isn’t the safest place to go right now when it comes to the level of spread, and there being relatively no mask mandates anywhere within the state.

A couple of additional things we would suggest in addition to what you have already thought through would be:

  1. Purchase some high-quality 3M N-95 masks for her and anyone else she is traveling with (and going to be in continual close contact with). Make sure they are tightly fitted to the face. These are going to be ones with two rubber bands that stretch behind the head, not over the ears.
  2. Make sure she and everyone who is in contact with her is fully vaccinated (including their boosters).
  3. If at all possible, drive during the off hours so that when bathroom breaks are needed, any rest areas/bathrooms are going to be much less crowded during those times.

Make sure you have printed off the COVID-19 Action Plan for her and your family should there be any known exposure or infection while you are gone (found here: The instructions sheet has a map where you can enter the zip code you are in and see the nearest location for receiving COVID-19 short-acting monoclonal antibodies should they be needed asap after known exposure to anyone who is infected.

The other option might be to wait just a couple more months. We are highly anticipating that the Astra Zeneca long-acting monoclonal antibody called AZD7442 may receive emergency use authorization from the FDA here in the next couple of weeks to months. That would give her an excellent added level of protection in addition to the vaccine and other precautions you will all be taking. Please stay tuned to our website, as we will be providing updates as soon as we hear whether or not it has been approved.