Public Health Question (Summer 2021)
I plan to travel internationally this summer with my children, are there any precautions that I need to take regarding COVID-19?
CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic. Getting your child or teen vaccinated can bring you one step closer to enjoying your trip abroad. Children 12 years and older are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
Get a COVID-19 vaccine for your child as soon as you can.
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
- COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, which includes studies in adolescents.
- Your child will need a second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine 3 weeks after their first shot.
- Your child can’t get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
- Your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit or without waiting 14 days between vaccines.
Keep in mind that your child will NOT be considered FULLY vaccinated until two weeks after the second vaccine/shot, see list provided for a vaccination site near you.
In addition, if you are planning to travel abroad, you should check the CDC’s list of Travel Recommendations by destination, it lists the level of risk category based on the number of positive COVID-19 individuals.
Risk Assessment Level for COVID-19:
- Level 4: COVID-19 Very High (travelers should avoid all travel to destination)
- Level 3: COVID-19 High (travelers should avoid all nonessential travel “ )
- Level 2: COVID-19 Moderate (travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid all nonessential travel to the Country)
- Level 1: COVID-19 Low (travelers should wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet/2 meters from people who are not in your travel group, avoid crowds, wash their hands often or use hand sanitizer and watch their health for signs of illness)
- Level Unknown: COVID-19 Unknown (no data reported to the World Health Organization by this Country, travelers advised to follow Level 4 Recommendations).
Please note that most countries in Central, South America and Europe are currently categorized as Level 4 and the CDC recommends that you defer travel to these countries as even fully vaccinated travelers are at risk for getting and spreading new COVID-19 variants.
If it is necessary for you and/or child to travel out of the country, note that the New Jersey Department of Health has recommended that schools have a policy for exclusion of unvaccinated students (if your child is fully vaccinated there is no exclusion). Please refer to New Jersey’s State’s Department of Health website for the latest guidance. In addition, it is recommended that schools follow the CDC guidelines regarding international travel, namely:
- Before travel, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before trip
- Wear a mask and take other precautions during travel
- Get tested 3 days before your return flight to show the airlines your negative results before you board the plane
- Upon return to U.S., get tested 3-5 days after travel
- Stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days with a negative test or 10 days without test
- Self-monitor for symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath)
Remember, COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC guidance is updated frequently. International travel recommendations are updated weekly. Check CDC’s International travel pages for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers, see CDC website and COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination Link for more information.
All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States. See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
Finally, CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. That’s because the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high since the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships. It is especially important for people with an increased risk of severe illness to avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises. CDC has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for cruise ship travel.