For December 2021, many parents are facing a dilemma. Adults are able to be vaccinated against COVID, but children under the age of 5 are not. Is travel safe? It depends on a lot of things, and every parent needs to make their own judgment call.
Questions to consider:
- Who will the child be interacting with? And how likely is it that those people are vaccinated? And how likely is it they will be taking precautions against transmission, whatever their vaccination status?
- How / where will your child interact with others? The risk of transmission in outdoor, socially distanced settings where most people are vaccinated is low. The risk in indoors, poorly ventilated, non-distanced settings, with unmasked and unvaccinated people is much higher.
- How prevalent is coronavirus where you will be traveling to? If the case rates in the community are very low, that’s safer. If they’re high, that’s riskier.
- Will your child (over age 2) wear a mask? That helps reduce risk.
- How concerned are you about your child getting COVID? Does your child have any health conditions that would make COVID especially risky for them?
Data that might inform your decision-making:
- Learn about the status of coronavirus at your planned destination: Vaccine rates state-by-state; Current case numbers state-by-state; Details by county for vaccines and case numbers
- Overview of COVID in children from the CDC
- population-based study from July shows very low risk of death or severe illness from COVID in children. (News about omicron.)
Here are resources for learning more, with detailed recommendations for what you can do to assess and reduce risk while traveling.
- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-risk.html – this was updated December 9, 2021, and I assume they will continue to update
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2021/05/26/kids-covid-summer-vaccine-mask/ – From May 26, 2021
- https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/should-you-travel-with-unvaccinated-kids/ar-BB1gur8V – from May 8, 2021
What about returning to work / school / daycare after traveling? Here are the CDC’s current recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html. They recommend that unvaccinated folks get tested 3 – 5 days after travel and self-quarantine for 7 days even if you test negative.
To learn about the broader topic of vacations with kids, read my full post on Traveling with Children.