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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

November 25, 2020, Kirkilas, Gary, DO ,
Traveling for the Holidays during a Pandemic

This holiday season, many parents will face the difficult decision of whether or not to proceed with their travel plans to see loved ones. Holiday travel with children can be a stressful ordeal under normal circumstances; during a pandemic, parents will encounter additional demands to keep their family safe.

We know that travel, both by air and by road, puts us in contact with the public and, therefore, creates more opportunities to encounter COVID-19. Parents should first determine if traveling is worth the risk in the first place. Keeping little ones masked and socially distanced may not be feasible, especially with air travel. Also, think about the people you will be visiting. If you’re paying a visit to high-risk individuals like grandparents, it’s likely not worth the risk to them.

With rising numbers of COVID-19 infections, it’s not surprising that the CDC recently released an official recommendation for people to stay home and avoid travel this holiday season. If you do decide to travel, please follow these quick tips below to minimize the risks to you and your family.

  • Get your flu shots. Last year, we saw a record number of children ages 0-4 years who required hospitalization for influenza. Get flu shots for everyone in your family at least two weeks before travel. This is your best defense against serious illness from influenza.
  • Travel by car if possible. While the airline industry has taken amazing steps to mitigate COVID-19 transmission (HEPA air filters, air exchange, electrostatic spraying), traveling by car will limit your contact with the public. In addition, the road trip experience can be a great way for older children to see new places.
  • If you must fly: Try to look for direct flights that will limit the need to change planes and walk through terminals. In addition, the shorter the flight the better, as experts state that longer flights dramatically increase your likelihood of infection. Keep your mask on for the entirety of the flight and consider opting out of meals. Lastly, bring disinfecting wipes to sanitize all high-touch areas.
  • Pack masks and hand sanitizers. Along with toothbrushes, diapers, and the Pack ’n Play, make sure you tote along important pandemic essentials. Pack two masks per child in case one is soiled or lost. When packing hand sanitizer, include a small dispenser that can be stored in a purse or backpack as well as a larger container for refills.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 five to seven days before you leave. While being tested is just a snapshot in time (a negative test today does not necessarily mean you won’t contract the virus and test positive tomorrow), it can pick up asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. This is especially important because children who have tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic 15% to 50% of the time.

The hope is that limiting travel and following these tips will ensure a happy and safe holiday season for your family.

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