After more than a year of COVID-19 madness, the world has started to take steps forward in getting back to normality, and the highly anticipated rebound of vacation travel is a hot topic of conversation. Amidst the rousing chatter however, families who are keen to vacation are feeling left out of conversation and a little confused as whether it’s safe to travel with unvaccinated kids.
The travel industry predicts a boom in summer vacations this year as people are eager to break free from the chains of the pandemic and have their fix of tropical sunshine and bottomless mojitos. Figures show that in the United States 32.8% of the population (which is 108 million people) have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and thousands more vaccines are being administered each day. And the good news for fully vaccinated people and those receiving the vaccine soon is that they can start making exciting travel plans for 2021 and beyond.
We have answered some of the most frequently asked questions to help you weigh up your decision whether to take a family vacation this year.
Is My Child Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine?
You may be asking whether your child is eligible for a vaccine. While pediatric vaccines are being administered to children in clinical trials for approval, the current U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines state that the vaccine is not publicly available to children under 16 years of age and may not be for some time yet. These guidelines also apply to Canada. On March 31, the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, said he hopes that the company can start vaccinating children between the ages of 12-15 years “before the next school year”, but action is yet to be taken upon this statement.
There are currently three vaccines available in the U.S. and all of them feature age restrictions. The Pfizer vaccine is available to those over 16 years of age, while the age limit for both the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines is 18 years and over.
According to the CDC, there is still limited and insufficient data on vaccinating children against the infectious disease, so they advise that any person outside of the recommended age ranges should not receive a vaccine for their own safety and well-being.
Are Children at High-Risk of Infection from COVID-19?
While coronavirus doesn´t discriminate between those belonging to certain age groups and people of all ages can be infected, children are less likely to develop severe illness compared with adults. So far studies show that children under 18 represent about 8.5% of all positive cases, with usually mild symptoms and relatively few deaths compared to adults.
If your child has an underlying health condition such as a chronic respiratory illness, this may be a risk factor and something to consider when making the decision to travel with unvaccinated kids.
What Precautions Can I Take to Lower the Risk of My Children Contracting the Virus?
One element to consider is the maturity level and age of your children. If your child has reached an age where you can rely on them to wear a mask for the duration of a flight and while in transfer, wash their hands regularly, and keep their distance from other people, then it can be considered safe to travel.
If possible, it’s advised and best to book a direct flight to your vacation destination to avoid coming into contact with more people than necessary, especially busy airport crowds.
While on vacation, ensure that your children spend a lot of time outside in the fresh air. Not only is this good for their mental health and well-being, but also majorly lowers the risk of coming into contact with the virus. If you decide to dine at a restaurant or visit a busy common area, ensure that your children are wearing masks when necessary, wash their hands regularly, and practice social distancing, the same as you would do at home.
You may also want to consider the destination that you’re traveling to and whether the area is practicing sufficient health and safety precautions. Puerto Vallarta has proudly received the “Safe Travels” stamp of approval from the World Travel & Tourism Council based on the rigorous implementation of COVID-19 health and safety precautions.
What are the Current Guidelines for COVID-19 Testing?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require that the whole family, including children, must undergo COVID-19 testing before being permitted reentry into the United States after traveling abroad, even if you’ve been vaccinated. This is to help control and prevent the spread of the disease.
Garza Blanca Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is proud to offer antigen and PCR testing at a discounted rate to help each of our guests who travel from countries that require a negative test result, such as the U.S. and Canada. The tests are administered by certified professionals at the comfort of the resort and accredited in an authorized laboratory in Puerto Vallarta. If you’d like further information on our COVID-19 testing, read more here.
The Bottom Line: Is it Safe to Travel with Unvaccinated Kids?
If you’re a vaccinated adult in need of a well-deserved family vacation, you may be left asking yourself: is it safe to travel with unvaccinated kids?
Amidst the blurring advice, the bottom line is yes, it is. Just ensure to follow the recommended safety precautions as vigilantly as possible and the guidelines on COVID-19 testing given by the CDC, which also applies to unvaccinated people who wish to travel. Pediatric vaccinations are coming for kid, but studies have to be finished first. Hopefully they will be available in early 2022. Until then, parents need to encourage their children to be cautious, but that doesn’t mean families shouldn’t travel at all.