Everything you need to know if you are travelling abroad with an unvaccinated child
The skies are opening up for Australia after almost two years and people can’t wait to get away from the isolation and monotony of the last two years, for a bit of breathing space. Most adults in Australia have been fully vaccinated with many of them eligible for their booster shots too. One would imagine that would be ample preparation for that holiday abroad. But viruses have a tendency to mutate and re-emerge as variants that could jeopardise any vacation plan, especially if you are traveling with children below the age of 12.
As of now in Australia, these children have not had their Covid-19 vaccinations. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recently granted provisional approval for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for use in children aged five to 11, but these will be given from January 10 onward. So, what happens to families travelling overseas before that?
Many countries have already started vaccinating young children. The USA started doing so from late October. Canada and Israel too have begun vaccinating children aged between five and 11. In end November, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have also recommended use of Pfizer vaccine for the same age group. China, Chile and Cambodia had begun the process for months now and Cuba has also started administering a locally developed vaccine to children aged between two to 10. In India, Covaxin has been recommended for people aged two to 18.
It has been observed that even though children can get the disease, Coronavirus doesn’t affect them as severely as it affects adults. However, the fact that some children have been hospitalised, admitted to intensive care, put on ventilators, and in isolated cases died from the disease, cannot be ignored.
It is advisable to weigh the risks and benefits before travelling abroad with unvaccinated children. Here are some of the points for parents and guardians to keep in mind while going on that long-awaited holiday:
- Practice good hand hygiene and always wear proper face masks.
- Avoid crowded touristy areas and make sure children avoid overcrowded playgrounds and day-care facilities. Eat out in open-air restaurants and cafes if possible.
- Find out about local health clinics before travelling out in case the child does contract Coronavirus. It is far easier to cope with emergencies in a distant land if the availability and proximity of the nearest medical centre is known beforehand.
- Travelling with a rapid antigen test kit is also an option. These are now available over the counter in Australia. It could make the decision to take the child for formal Covid-19 testing easier.
- It might be prudent to look at a holiday destination that is a bit closer to home and that had higher vaccination rates and lower cases of Covid-19.
- Keeping in mind that not everyone is fully vaccinated, either out of choice or compulsion, resorts and hotel rooms might be a better idea than Bed and Breakfast kind of places where contact with others could be an issue.
- Take help from travel agents with issues like testing, quarantine and vaccination requirements for entry into a country, including countries you may have to transit through.
- Pay attention to the fine prints of terms and conditions of insurance before signing and pick the best level of cover, rather than the cheapest. While some travel insurance may cover medical expense if you catch Covid-19 abroad, there are some that wouldn’t cover the cost of the resulting travel disruption.
- Lastly, set aside money in case you have to pay for COVID-19 tests overseas. Costs of these tests vary but it all adds up to a substantial amount. Work out these extra costs and add them to your travel budget before stepping out.