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Now that more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, many families are planning on traveling this holiday season. But what if you have a child who is too young to be vaccinated or hasn’t received the vaccine for other reasons? Can you still travel safely, or should you stay home? Drs. Claire Boogaard and Sarah Ash Combs weigh in.
Should I travel with my unvaccinated children this holiday season?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer to whether you should travel with an unvaccinated child during the holidays. Even though younger kids are at lower risk of getting sick with COVID-19 than adults, their risk is not zero. It’s up to each family to weigh the risks and benefits before hitting the road. Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide:
- What are the rates of infection at your destination?
- Can you avoid crowds?
- Are there risks of transmission to others?
- If your child contracts COVID-19 while you’re traveling, do you have a plan?
Tips for traveling with unvaccinated kids during the holidays
If you do decide to travel with your unvaccinated children, follow these tips for keeping everyone safe:
- Vaccinate! Encourage everyone who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine (5 years and older) to get vaccinated.
- Test for COVID-19 before you go and when you return. Ask everyone to take a COVID test before getting together and encourage them to not attend if they are feeling ill.
- Know your quarantine requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccinated people don’t need to self-quarantine before or after traveling, but unvaccinated people should do so for seven days. You should also check if your child’s school or daycare facility has a rule about quarantining after travel and make sure you can meet this requirement.
- If you are traveling internationally, make sure you are familiar with your destination’s vaccination requirements. Although many countries have relaxed vaccine rules for children who are ineligible to get a COVID-19 shot, many still require proof of a negative coronavirus test.
- Travel by car, if possible. Although it might take longer to get to your destination, this will help limit your contact with other people. When you make pit stops for gas, food and bathroom breaks, remember to mask up and follow social distancing guidelines.
- If you must fly, try to get a direct flight. This will limit the time you spend in busy airports and you’ll spend less time on the plane. Also, make sure you always wear a mask while on the plane and in the airport and undergo symptom screening before traveling.
- Pack extra masks and hand sanitizers. Along with toothbrushes and clothes, don’t forget to bring these pandemic essentials!
- Get together safely. If your family is concerned or worried about getting COVID-19 during gatherings, consider dining or gathering outside instead of indoors. If you can’t be outside, try to increase ventilation by opening windows.