Do children need to be vaccinated for school trips abroad?
25 Jan 2022, 11:05
by Kate Moore
Read on to understand the travel rules for unvaccinated and partly vaccinated children, what different countries consider "fully vaccinated" and how children can prove their vaccine status abroad.
Vaccination requirements for school trips abroad – the key take-aways
- Though many countries have lifted their COVID travel rules, some popular school trip destinations may require additional tests or forms from unvaccinated travellers, including children aged 12 and over
- Children are eligible for a second COVID-19 jab from 5 years old
- Teachers and parents should allow 4-6 months for children to complete their vaccination course before the trip
- Children aged 5 to 17 years old can use the digital NHS COVID Pass to demonstrate their COVID status for school trips abroad
- Teachers and adults may need a booster shot to comply with EU COVID-19 travel rules
Do children need to be vaccinated to participate in school trips?
The world is opening up to foreign travel, but some popular school trip destinations still impose restrictions, such as tests, on travellers who aren't fully vaccinated. This means that party leaders must factor vaccination requirements into their travel plans and should share these with parents to ensure that all children have enough time to get the jabs needed for their school trip destination.
Check out our handy map of EU travel regulations for school trips.
What do countries consider fully vaccinated?
The entry rules for most school trip destinations require children aged 12 - 17 years to have had two COVID jabs to be considered fully vaccinated. Double-jabbed teachers and adults may also need a booster shot to comply with EU COVID-19 travel rules.
It is important to check the vaccination rules by age group for your chosen destination and allow sufficient time for everyone in your party to have the required jabs.
When do children need to be vaccinated for a school trip in the summer?
Teachers and parents should allow 4-6 months for children to complete their vaccination course before travel and should bear in mind the following timescales:
- Children are eligible for their first dose on the day they turn 5 years
- Children can't have their 2nd jab until at least 12 weeks after their 1st dose
- The last required dose should be administered at least 2-4 weeks before travel (depending on the type of vaccine)
- If a child tests positive for COVID-19 they will have to wait another 12 weeks before they can have a COVID-19 vaccine
Parents and children can make a direct appointment at an NHS COVID-19 vaccination centre for either dose.
How do children demonstrate their status for school trips abroad?
Children aged 12-15 in England can prove their COVID status via the digital NHS COVID Pass for outbound travel, making it easier for school groups to visit countries that require proof of vaccination or prior infection to gain entry or avoid testing. Children will need to register for an NHS log-in to obtain a digital NHS COVID Pass. They can do this themselves or a parent or guardian can register on their behalf. The verification process can take a few days and so parents should allow plenty of time to set up the NHS app before the trip.
Children aged between 5 and 11 years old can't access the digital COVID pass. Instead, they will need to apply for the NHS COVID pass letter.
What if someone in the group doesn't get vaccinated in time?
Though we will always provide information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for your destination, it is ultimately the responsibility of the party leader and passengers in the group to obtain the necessary visas, vaccinations and tests required to travel. Refunds are not available in the event that members of the group are unable to comply with a country’s vaccination rules at the time of departure.
What about teachers and adults in the group?
The entry rules for many school trip destinations require adults to be fully vaccinated – including booster shots for eligible adults. It is important to check the requirements for your specific destination to understand whether boosters are required for adult travellers and allow enough time to organise the necessary shots.
How do children get vaccinated for travel abroad?
Children aged 5 to 15 years can book their vaccination appointments online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy. Or, find a walk-in vaccination site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment.
COVID-19 medical exemptions - proving you are unable to get vaccinated
The gov.uk website contains information for people who need official proof that, for medical reasons, they are unable to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
All information is correct as at 1 July 2022. Note that travel rules can change at short notice and requirements may differ by the time you travel.
More information from the COVID-19 Travel Hub
- School Travel Insurance with COVID-19 cover
- Voyager School Travel Peace of Mind Promise
- Guide to Restarting School Trips
- COVID-19 Travel FAQs