While children are at lower risk for severe illness than adults in general, 3.9 million cases of covid-19 and 308 deaths had been reported in the United States by mid-May. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends delaying travel until people are fully vaccinated.
“Parents are reading all these articles about singles who are full of savings and planning these ‘YOLO’ trips,” said Katie Stewart, a travel adviser with the family-focused agency Ciao Bambino. She said she recently had a conversation with a client whose mind-set was much different: “I don’t want a YOLO trip. I just want to come home and know my kids aren’t sick.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added a wrinkle with the new guidance that vaccinated people can go without a mask in many situations both indoors and outdoors, leaving parents to wonder if the mask-free person nearby is inoculated or just taking advantage of looser guidelines.
“It’s definitely made a lot of families rethink their travel plans and recoil,” said Sahera Dirajlal-Fargo, who specializes in pediatric infectious-disease and travel medicine at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. “A lot of our patients are saying, ‘Everyone else is moving on. What about us?’”
For doctors who are experts in both pediatrics and infectious diseases, the questions come from patients, friends and family. They say experts know so much more about the virus this year compared to 2020, and families can make smart decisions that will let them get away safely.
“I think it’s unfortunate we all feel that the younger kids have been left out,” said Dirajlal-Fargo, who is also part of University Hospitals Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine and Global Health. “I really want to emphasize the optimism of: we know what works and we didn’t a year ago. So we can have a more quote unquote normal summer. There are lots of activities that can be done safely.”
What kind of travel is safe for a fully vaccinated teen or tween?
Your fully vaccinated child can pretty much travel like they did before the pandemic — with some caveats.
If travel includes visiting someone who is at high risk for serious illness — or who has an underlying issue that might make the vaccine less effective — that would require some extra vigilance.
“You probably need to take extra precautions even though everyone is vaccinated,” said Andrew Pavia, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at University of Utah.
Sharon Nachman, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, said parents need to remember how long it takes to be fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech shot that has been authorized for those 12 and older: Two doses three weeks apart, plus another two weeks for full immunity. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the vaccine for emergency use in older children earlier this month.