Have vaccinations, travel – but not with the children in tow
As more countries lift travel restrictions on vaccinated people, the world is slowly opening up to travelers again.
So travelers without children.
To date, no Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in children, said Dr. Sharon Nachman, director of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Department at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
Clinical trials vary for children, and factors like dosage levels and pre-existing vaccination schedules for children need to be evaluated before vaccines are approved for them, she said.
The countries are opening up to vaccinated travelers
Countries like Estonia and Seychelles have opened borders and removed quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers. Greece and Thailand have indicated that similar measures are in the works.
Other countries allow vaccination exemptions for certain types of travelers. Georgia requires that you enter by air from certain Slovenian policy only applies to those who have taken vaccines made in America and Europe.
Slovenia is opening its borders to travelers who have received vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
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Iceland allows vaccinated travelers to bypass quarantine requirements only if they are currently allowed access – and most people do not.
Experiments with children have started but will take time
Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca are approved for people aged 18 and over. People aged 16 and over can take the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Vaccination trials in children have begun, but the most distant ones affect older children and adolescents, said Dr. Jeremy Levin, chairman of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a trade association for the biotech industry.
It’s important to understand that studies in children may have to be different.
DR. Jeremy Levin
Chairman of the BIO
“Pfizer and Moderna are testing their vaccines on children 12 and older and may have data by summer,” Levin told CNBC Global Traveler. “Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and AstraZeneca are further behind but also plan to test their vaccines in children.”
Last month, Oxford University announced that AstraZeneca studies would begin for children 6 years and older. Johnson & Johnson is also starting vaccination trials first in older children, followed by infants and newborns Shortly thereafter, the New York Times reported last month.
Russia is requesting permission to conduct trials of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in children, although it has not yet established specific age groups, Levin said.
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“It’s important to understand that studies in children may have to be different,” Levin said. “These studies may take longer to read because adverse effects of Covid-19 are less common in this population.”
Infected children are often asymptomatic and do not tend to get seriously ill from Covid-19. Child deaths are also rare.
When are children vaccinated?
Vaccinations are not expected in time for the summer travel season, but they are expected to be available to students in the fall, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Officer.
“I’m not sure if it’s exactly the first day of school opening, but it’s pretty close,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press on February 28.
Elementary school children have to wait a little longer.
“If you project realistically, when we will be able to get enough data to say that elementary school children can be vaccinated … I would think that this would be the end of the year at the earliest and very likely the first Quarter of 2022, “said Fauci.
Fauci said companies are testing vaccines in a process known as “age de-escalation”. Older children are tested first and then gradually worked through to infants.
“Almost all vaccine companies have to start learning from infants,” Nachman said, although she called conducting age-group studies “something.” [of] an artificial plan “which is” not prescribed by science “.
“In many studies, there is no evidence of increased safety … as we get older and escalate,” she said. “The result is that we are not protecting children and their families, but increasing their risk by not getting them [vaccinated] earlier.”
Are there exceptions made for children to travel?
In Slovenia, children under the age of 13 can avoid quarantine and testing requirements when crossing the border “with a close family member who has not been quarantined,” said Sabina Langus Boc of the Slovenian Ministry of the Interior.
However, most of the countries that have relaxed travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers do not allow exceptions for unvaccinated children. However, it could happen if countries hit by catastrophic losses in tourism revenues try to attract family vacationers this summer.
“Countries that are exempting children from vaccination do so when data are not available,” Levin said. “It is important to know that we know that children can and will be harmed by Covid-19.”
Family travel this summer
While vaccination guidelines may not give children opportunities to travel overseas this summer, families can consider destinations like the Maldives and Mexico that are open to everyone – vaccinated or not.
New destinations are expected to open to more travelers as vaccination campaigns continue around the globe. On March 25th, the Seychelles will welcome all visitors – regardless of vaccination status – with the expectation that the island nation will achieve herd immunity this month.
Amid an aggressive vaccination rollout that began in January, Seychelles opened to vaccinated travelers before announcing they would welcome all travelers on March 25.
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Families can also consider one of the few island hotspots that have kept Covid infection rates low if they’re ready to “go on vacation” together.
However, most people are expected to travel domestically this summer, a trend that applies from the US to China and Saudi Arabia. In a new report by TripAdvisor, released in January, domestic travel was named as one of five trends to watch this year.
Others may stay at home until medical authorities deem it safe to travel again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently advising people to “postpone travel and stay home to protect themselves and others from Covid-19, even if they are vaccinated”.