Kids, holiday travel and the COVID-19 vaccine

Tameiki Lee
Posted at 8:29 AM, Sep 27, 2021

With Pfizer releasing data last week showing that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe for younger kids, some parents may be wondering if it'll be safe for children to travel by Thanksgiving.

Pfizer plans to send its data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of this month. The FDA’s approval would allow kids between ages 5 and 11 to get the shot.

Health experts remind us that submitting an emergency use application is a long process, but it is possible for kids to have access to the shot before November.

“I estimate that maybe during the last 10 days of October that the vaccines will be available to be administered actually in pharmacies, or in pediatrician offices for children,” said Dr. Mavel Gutierrez, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Rocky Mountain Children's Hospital.

However, there may not be enough time to get the second dose before the holidays. Add in the two-week wait period for the shot to be completely effective. Just one dose has an efficacy rate of 33%.

And if we're traveling, constant contact with others puts children as well as adults at higher risk of becoming infected.

The main concern is the connections or the type of transportation and exposures in between connections.

“The plane arrives to the airport, so there's a lot of people in the gate area, then they have to be transported to another gate in these little buses or they go in trains or on ferries,” said Gutierrez.

If you must travel for the holidays, Gutierrez says to take all the precautions as if your child isn't vaccinated at all. That includes wearing a face mask and social distancing.