After more than a year of “pandemic life”, we are all eager to return to some sense of normalcy. For many families this includes travel. Dr. Gary Kirkilas writes in healthychildren.org some guidelines for families with young children.
Experts now say that fully vaccinated people are safe to travel with some common sense precautions. It is still advised that unvaccinated people should not travel unless it is absolutely necessary. As most parents are aware children under 12 do not have access to the vaccine yet. So the parents and older children are OK while the younger ones are still at risk. It is true that younger children have milder cases but some do become severely ill. Thousands of children have been hospitalized and hundreds have died.
Dr. Kirkilas writes that not all vacations or trips carry the same risk. Traveling by car to a vacation rental home is much safer than flying to a busy hotel to spend a week on a crowded beach. The key is to think about the number of close contacts you’ll likely have. He has the following suggestions to lower travel risks:
- Have everyone eligible in the family and those whom you plan to visit be vaccinated.
- Check the Covid-19 spread rates where you plan to visit. Location with high rates of community spread means higher risk of someone in your family being exposed to COVID-19.
- On a plane, bus, train, or other form of public transportation, make sure everyone in the family wears a mask. Keep them on in the airport or station.
- Try to travel by car if possible. During rest stops wear a mask and wash your hands. To avoid crowded restaurants and children play areas, you could pack your own food and snacks.
- Try for direct flights if you fly. Keep mask on the entire flight and bring disinfectant wipes to sanitize all the high touch areas.
- Pack extra masks and hand sanitizers. Pack at least 2 masks per child. When packing hand sanitizer include a travel-size dispenser that can be stored in a purse or backpack.
The pandemic has been going on a long time and there is light at the end of the tunnel. The pandemic is not over but as the vaccine rollout continues travel will be safer and more relaxing.
By Sally Robinson, MD
Professor, Division of Complex Care
University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB)
UTMB Adult and Child Travel Medicine
UTMB Health Primary Care Pediatrics
AAP Schedule of Well-Child Care Visits & Benefits