Holiday trips and vaccines for children: factors to consider
In an important step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved the authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.
The news comes just as many families are planning their vacation trip – or at least wondering if they should – depending on how the vaccine rollout unfolds in children. If vacation travel is on the table for you this year, here’s what to expect:
Understanding the childhood immunization schedule
If your decision to travel with children depends on getting them fully immunized, here are some key dates you need to know.
The CDC recommends that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine be given three weeks (21 days) apart. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to the CDC.
If you want your children to be fully immunized with …
Monday December 6 (last day of Hanukkah): By working back from that date, kids have already missed that time window that would require a first dose on November 1, followed by a second dose on November 22.
Friday December 24 (Christmas Eve): Assuming you schedule the second dose exactly three weeks after the first dose, you plan to need a first appointment by Friday, November 19, and a second by Friday, December 10.
Saturday January 1 (New Year and last day of Kwanzaa): Within the recommended 21-day window, you should schedule a first dose by Saturday, November 27, allowing the second dose to be given by Saturday, December 18.
Expect bigger crowds to travel this year
Even before news of the approval of children’s vaccines came out, we knew it would be a busier travel year than 2020. Almost 3 in 10 Americans say they did not travel during the 2020 holiday season (29%) plan to spend money on flights / hotel stays during the 2021 holiday season, according to a September 2021 NerdWallet survey conducted by The Harris Poll with over 2,000 American adults.
Expect plenty of rusty travelers who could board their first plane in about two (or more) years. For young children, this is an especially long time when they haven’t flexed their travel muscles. And for many kids, that also means it could be their first flight.
Pack your patience, as first-time travelers are more likely to fumble through the process of loading overhead compartments or trudge through security than a seasoned jet setter.
To avoid the crowds at the airport, consider requesting the TSA PreCheck. This program, led by the US Department of Homeland Security, allows members to use fast-track lanes at more than 200 US airports, where you won’t have to pull out your laptop or remove your shoes, belt or jacket.
To become a member, you will need to complete an application, pass an interview, and pay an application fee of $ 85. Numerous travel credit cards offer statement credit for the application fee if charged to this card.
Always have reimbursable travel plans, if possible
While the CDC says COVID-19 vaccines are effective in helping provide protection against the COVID-19 variants that are currently circulating – including the Delta variant – people can sometimes still get infections (usually mild) of COVID-19 after being fully immunized.
In past flares, some people have reverted to already established travel plans. It is not unreasonable to anticipate that you might be doing the same. If you think there is a chance that your trip will not go through, consider purchasing travel insurance which includes Cancellation coverage for any reason.
If you don’t want to pay that extra expense, at least try to bill your trip to a travel credit card which offers trip cancellation and interruption guarantees. While these are more limited in terms of what is covered (generally “refusal to travel” is not a covered ground), you may be reimbursed for eligible expenses on certain trips, particularly if you or a member of your traveling party become ill before, or during, your trip.
For maximum protection, try to book with companies that have flexible policies. Many US airlines and hotels have eliminated change or cancellation fees on many types of reservations, but not all. For example, most basic economy class airline tickets are set in stone once you buy them, so you might want to avoid such fares.
The bottom line
Approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for young children could have implications for an ever-changing travel industry. With more and more families feeling comfortable putting their children on a plane or in a hotel, the demand could increase. That means bigger crowds, more competition for reservations, and perhaps more chaos as the younger and less experienced travelers among us hit the road this winter holiday season.
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Sally French writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SAFmedia.
The article Vacation Travel and Vaccines for Children: Factors to Consider originally appeared on NerdWallet.