Your pandemic guide to traveling with unvaccinated kids right now

Most of us are now ready to fly and explore after a year of constant pandemic lockdowns. The good news is that those who have been vaccinated continue to receive positive news.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that you can travel safely with “low risk” if you have both shots or the Johnson & Johnson shot. As long as you take precautions such as wearing a mask and avoiding crowds, socially distancing, and washing your hands, you are safe.

The CDC has updated its travel guidelines
The CDC has updated its domestic travel guidelines and now states that fully vaccinated individuals don’t have to be tested before they travel or undergo self-quarantine afterward while in the U.S. If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last three months, it is the same.

The CDC encourages everyone to be safe when traveling internationally. If you are fully vaccinated you don’t have to take a COVID-19 exam. As long as the destination you are traveling to doesn’t require it, you can still travel. If your state or jurisdiction requires it, you don’t have to self-quarantine upon returning. However, you will need to have a negative result for your flight home. You’ll also need to be tested within three to five business days.

What happens if you aren’t vaccinated?
The CDC has not changed its travel guidelines for people who have not been vaccinated. This means that no-necessary trips are discouraged.

You should be tested before you travel. It is also recommended that you self-quarantine for at least a week following your return, or 10 days if you have not been tested upon your return.

What does this mean for parents whose children are not eligible for vaccines?
Although vaccines are being administered to children in clinical trials, they are not yet available to the public for anyone younger than 16. You may wonder if it is safe for your family to travel on a plane?

Adults are not the only ones getting infected. In the last few weeks, many states have seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 among children. Between March 25 and April 1, 64,000 new cases of COVID-19 in children were reported across the country, which is approximately 13% of all cases.

Shapiro says, “Compared to adults it seems small, however, it’s really not an important problem. We still don’t even know for children with mild symptoms or no symptoms what long-term impact infection could have on their lives.” We don’t know how the new variants will affect children and whether they will be more transmissible than other strains.

Experts predict that infection rates will change in the next three to four months. The vaccine may be available to children 12-15 years old by then. Shapiro encourages you to hold off for a while longer. However, as with many other situations in this pandemic situation, it could come down to whether the current risk is worth it.

How to reduce your COVID-19 risk when flying with children
Some people suggest that you should consider your child’s maturity level when weighing your options.

Vincent Silenzio from Rutgers School of Public Health says, “If your child can rely upon them to wear a face mask, keep their distance away from other people and wash their hands before wiping down their nose, then it’s okay to travel, so long as you follow the CDC’s guidance.”

You should have your child tested before and after you travel, and follow the CDC self-quarantine guidelines. Before your child interacts with other people, it is important to make sure that they have not been infected during travel.

Silenzio says, “It is best to remember that kids are very lovable biological terror organisms.” It’s unlikely your adolescent will be seriously harmed by COVID-19, but it’s possible for them to inadvertently cause harm to someone else through passing on an infection.”

Silenzio points out that driving is always safer than flying. Although airlines have many risk mitigation measures, including air filtration. However, flying by plane puts you in an environment that you cannot control. Shapiro also points out that many other passengers are likely not vaccinated.

Shapiro says, “The mitigation measures can be important, but only around one-quarter the population has been vaccinated. Then you sit in a closed space with people taking off their masks to eat or drink.” You have to cross the lines to get to the gate.

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