The CDC and the FDA have approved vaccines for children under the age of 5 just in time for the busiest season of travel.
"We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today's decision, they can," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky when she announced the decision.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are offering vaccines to young children.
Pfizer's pediatric COVID vaccine is available to children 6 months to 4 years old. The shot is given in three separate doses. Moderna's pediatric COVID vaccine is available for children aged between 6 months and 5 years old and is given in two separate doses four weeks apart.
While these shots may not prevent COVID-19 infection, the antibodies the vaccines provide protect children from hospitalization and extreme illness, meaning parents planning summer travel will know that their children are protected in some ways from COVID-19.
The vaccines also mean that young children can avoid testing in certain situations, such as on cruise vacations. Some cruise lines are requiring unvaccinated passengers to test boarding cruise ships, including after leaving the ship during shore excursions.
Families should still take precautions when traveling, even if they are vaccinated, to avoid infection and delays to their travel plans due to illness, advised the CDC.
Many countries have lifted their vaccination mandates for travelers, but those planning trips should still check before traveling internationally. Some destinations still also require a negative COVID-19 test for travelers as well, which includes children under the age of 5.
"Given the amount of time it takes to achieve immunity in this age group, I don’t think it will impact Summer 2022 travel," said Beth Rasor, travel advisor and destination wedding specialist at Luxury Travel Boutique, an affiliate of Be All Inclusive. "However, I think it will boost parents' confidence in traveling during the fall and winter months. It’s really perfect timing when you think about it. Families with preschool-aged children or younger have the golden opportunity to travel after school starts during the fall months when demand and pricing are typically lower than Summer months."
TheCruiseGenius.com's Scott Lara agrees, noting that some parents may still be hesitant but that there will be many travelers still traveling this summer.
"Speaking as a grandfather of two grandsons under the age of 5, I feel that many parents are still not convinced on vaccines for young kids," said Lara. "Many parents will probably opt for staycations vs. going on a cruise or travel overseas. That being said, all-inclusive resorts remain popular with many families."
Some travelers are likely still held up by vaccine mandates.
"My clients are waiting more for vaccine mandates to go away before they travel--especially cruising," said Tyson Wharton, owner of Sioux Empire Travel. "I think everyone who's vaccinated will be, and the people that aren't won't be convinced."
Many believe that the ending of pre-departure testing was the watershed moment for summer family travel.
"I have clients comfortable traveling with fully vaccinated adults and adolescents, with others feeling fine with the world as it is," said Mandee Migliaccio, CEO of Stepping Out Travel. "The flood walls have opened with the tests for returning to the USA being released. The majority of my clients would start traveling again if the vaccine requirements were lifted."