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What to do about traveling if parents are vaccinated but kids are not has been on my mind for a while. Let me preface this article by saying that I am not a doctor, or a geneticist, or an epidemiologist. To paraphrase the old commercial, I haven’t even stayed at a Holiday Inn Express recently, though the last time I did, I thought it might be inside a Walmart.

(SEE ALSO: Spoiler alert: the Holiday Inn Express is NOT inside Walmart)

But, given the increased rollout of the COVID vaccine, my wife and I have started talking about traveling more. Given the vaccine availability as 16+, we are starting to question about how we would feel about trips if we and our older children were vaccinated but our younger kids were not.

Our Family’s Travel During COVID-19

I understand that different people have different opinions on COVID-19 itself, the pandemic and the restrictions that have been put in place over the past year or so. (Believe me, as someone who writes about travel and reads many other travel blogs, I see all sides of it. If there’s an article talking about traveling, then you get comments talking about how irresponsible it is to go anywhere, no matter what precautions you take. On the other hand, if the article talks about choosing not to travel, or taking precautions while traveling, then the comments are filled with things like “Oh you sheeple – I have been traveling nonstop since March 2020 – it’s the best ever.”)

Our family has been somewhere in the middle, with more of a conservative / stay-at-home tilt. Originally, we canceled most of our trips that had been booked in 2020. But we did end up doing a bit of traveling. Last summer, we spent a few nights as a family in an Airbnb in Michigan. Then, a few weeks ago, we did another mini road trip to an Airbnb in southern Indiana. But mostly, 2020 was a year of not traveling.

My son started a two-year church mission in Portland, Oregon, last September, so he and I flew out there, and that trip is the only time I’ve been on an airplane since March 2020.

a man taking a selfie with a mask on his face

After I dropped him off in Portland, I did a bit of roadtripping in southern Oregon and northern California by myself.

Vaccines Are Becoming More Prevalent …

So, where we sit here in April 2021, vaccines are becoming more prevalent, at least here in the United States and Ohio specifically. Ohio opened up vaccines to people 40 and above (aka me) a few weeks ago and just recently updated the guidelines to anyone 16 and over. This is basically as low as it can go right now (in my understanding) given the age restrictions on the current vaccines. I am aware of a few trials of existing and upcoming vaccines on younger children, but those are still ongoing.

In our family, I have gotten my first shot (Moderna), and we are trying to schedule my wife and two of our children. The other 3 kids that still live with us are under 16 and currently not eligible for vaccines.

… But What Happens When Parents Are Vaccinated but Kids Are Not?

So all of that brings up the question about traveling if only some of us are vaccinated. Even given the ongoing studies for vaccines in younger children, it seems unlikely that all of our immediate family will be vaccinated this year. I recently read an article interviewing CNN Medical Expert Dr. Leana Wen talking about this topic. Gary from View from the Wing has also written a few times about this topic, including recently sharing this CDC study suggesting 90% effectiveness against infection two weeks after getting the second shot.

I will say that it is a bit difficult to know exactly what is safe and unsafe to do. With so much data out there, it’s hard to know what to do. I try to look at the underlying studies rather than the media explaining it, though that can be difficult as well.

Our Family’s Current Thoughts on Travel

We have not yet fully decided what we are going to do in our family. We will continue to do smaller road trips, I think, and we are looking to hopefully travel more in the upcoming months. Studies have shown that younger children are less likely to transmit the coronavirus than adults and teenagers (even though that seems strange to me).

Where we’re at is trying to understand that EVERYTHING has risk. And so it’s a matter of trying to figure out where our comfort level is, which is something that every person and family has to decide for themselves.

One thing that my wife and I have noticed is that a lot of our reticence to travel is psychological as well as based on any medical information. Because we have spent the past year wearing masks and staying six feet away from each other, it makes it hard to stop! Although neither of us has been fully vaccinated yet, we’ve talked about still feeling nervous about being around people even when we are.

What about you? What are your family’s plans for travel in 2021 and beyond?

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