Traveling with COVID-19 Unvaccinated Kids-An Expert Share Tips
Summer is back, and if you haven’t noticed, people are traveling. As more states and countries start to open up, many of us are frankly itching to visit family or experience a vacation again. But while many of us parents and older kids are vaccinated, our younger children are not vaccinated, which is a concern for many families wanting to travel. Whether you are scouring online to find a great getaway deal or looking to book tickets soon, we chatted with Dr. Steven Gelman, Director of Outpatient Pediatrics at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, about traveling with unvaccinated kids this summer.
Psst… check out our Summer Reading List for Kids of All Ages 2021
First, is it safe for kids to travel if they have not been vaccinated?
Yes, it is safe for kids to travel if they have not been vaccinated. That said, I would advise that families head to destinations where the positivity rates are lower, which does knock off some locations.
But if kids are too young at this point to be vaccinated, I do encourage their travel companions, such as their parents or relatives, to be vaccinated before travel. This will minimize the potential spread to the children. If parents are not vaccinated, then I discourage travel.
Realistically it’s tough to get a toddler or, even in my case, my special needs child to wear a mask, any tips that can help keep our kids safe this summer? Is this still something that a parent should be concern about?
It is challenging to get some kids to wear their masks and certainly not easy to get them to wear them properly. One of the benefits of summer travel is that many activities are outdoors, decreasing the spread. I would recommend dining outdoors with unvaccinated children and not yet eating indoors.
As much as possible, I would keep your family in a bubble and try to keep the kids close. In some ways, travel now is more challenging than it was a few months ago in that most adults wore their masks then, and you could avoid those that didn’t. Now so many vaccinated adults have removed their masks, so it is harder to know who is vaccinated and who isn’t. This comes back to the idea of traveling to cities and states where the COVID positivity numbers are low and conducive to outdoor activities as much as possible.
We have been seeing and expect to continue to see an increase in other viral pathogens, like common cold germs, increasing in the younger group as the COVID numbers drop. Like in flu season, these kids have to be monitored for any respiratory problems and dehydration. Most clear it like they always did.
Any idea when young children will be able to get vaccinated?
Currently, children under 12 years old are not eligible for the vaccine, but we hear and are hopeful it will be available to younger children in the fall. While I am excited and hopeful for it to be expanded soon, unless it happens imminently, it wouldn’t help for summer travel.
Vaccines are free; here is what you need to know.