Do children need to be vaccinated for school trips abroad?
11 Jan 2022, 12:05 by Kate Moore
Children aged 12 years and over are eligible for their second COVID-19 jab, opening up more possibilities for school trips in 2022. 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
- Most overseas school trip destinations require all travellers, including children aged 12 and over, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19
- 12 to 15-year-olds are now eligible for a second COVID-19 jab, opening up more destinations to school groups
- Teachers and parents should allow 4-6 months for children to complete their vaccination course before the trip
- Fully vaccinated children can apply for a NHS COVID Pass letter for foreign travel
- Teachers and adults may need a booster shot to comply with EU COVID-19 travel rules
What has been announced about COVID-19 vaccination for children?
Children can get a 1st dose of the vaccine from the day they turn 12. Most children can get a 2nd dose from 12 weeks after they had their 1st jab.
Young people aged 16-17 have been eligible for two doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Autumn 2021
What has children’s vaccination got to do with school trips?
Each country’s COVID-19 rules, such as entry, testing and quarantine requirements for visitors, are linked to the vaccination status of the traveller and whether they are fully vaccinated. So, the news that children are eligible for a second vaccine opens up more destinations for school trips in 2022.
What is the situation for vaccinations for under-18s in other countries?
EU countries including France, Spain, Germany and Italy, as well as the US recommend vaccinations for over-12s. Consequently, most countries’ COVID-19 rules assume that children have been fully vaccinated from age 12.
Do children need to be vaccinated to participate in school trips?
Yes. The indicators are that most foreign school trip destinations will require all travellers, including teens, to be fully vaccinated in the future. For example, France, Spain, Germany and New York City either impose additional restrictions such as quarantine or testing, or refuse entry to unvaccinated or partly-vaccinated travellers aged from 12 years.
This means that party leaders must factor in vaccination rules to 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.
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?
If your school trip destination requires children from 12 years old to be vaccinated, there is still time to get their jabs in time for a trip in the summer term.
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 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 weeks before travel
- If a child tests positive for COVID-19 they will have to wait another 12 weeks before they can have a COVID-19 vaccine
Eligible children, with an upcoming trip, don't have to wait for the in-school vaccination service and can make a direct appointment at an NHS COVID-19 vaccination centre for their 1st or 2nd jab.
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, paperwork and vaccinations required to travel. Refunds are not available in the event a group is unable to comply with a country’s vaccination rules at time of departure.
How do children demonstrate their vaccine status for foreign travel?
All EU countries and the US accept the NHS COVID-19 Pass as proof of vaccination.
- Fully vaccinated children aged 12-15 years can apply for a COVID Pass letter from the NHS website or by calling 119.
- Over-16s can use the digital NHS Covid Pass or request a hard copy letter from the NHS.
What about teachers and adults in the group?
The entry rules for most 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?
- In England, 12 to 15-year-olds can have their jabs at school, or book an appointment at a vaccination centre, some of which also offer a drop-in service. Over-16s can book their first or second jabs online, by calling 119, or can visit a walk-in clinic
- In Scotland, 12 to 15-year-olds are being invited to make an appointment or get vaccinated at drop-in centres. Over-16s can register for their first or second vaccine online, or by calling 0800 030 8013, or can go to drop-in vaccination clinics
- In Wales, vaccination centres are also being used for teenagers
- In Northern Ireland, jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds are expected to roll out through schools during November. Older teenagers can book online, call 0300 200 7813, or go to walk-in centres
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 correct as at 1 December 2021. 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