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Covid Vaccination Requirements for School Trips Abroad

Here we answer all your most frequently asked questions regarding Covid vaccination requirements for school trips abroad.

Now that all children aged 12-17 years are eligible for double vaccination, travelling abroad on school trips should be much easier moving forward – which is fantastic news for students who have now missed out on almost two years of these educational experiences.

Here, we answer all your most frequently asked questions regarding vaccination requirements for school trips abroad.

Do my students need to be vaccinated to travel abroad?

Of course, it is completely up to individuals whether they wish to take up the offer of vaccination.

However, all indications are that most countries will require all visitors, including children aged 12-17 years, to be double vaccinated for the foreseeable future.

Countries are free to set their own entry requirements and as travellers it is our responsibility to ensure that we meet these if we wish to enter a foreign country. We are very used to adhering to requirements around passport validity and visas - vaccine requirements are exactly the same as these.

Therefore, it is essential that parents and guardians are aware of this when signing their children up for school trips abroad.

If the country requires them to be double vaccinated at the time of the trip and they have chosen not to be, they would not be eligible for a full refund as they have chosen not to meet the entry requirements.

Normal cancellation charges would apply to that individual, so it’s really important they know this before signing up for your trip.

We would always recommend that group leaders make parents aware of the following:

• Current entry requirements for the country you’re visiting (this includes passport validity, visa requirements and vaccine requirements). You can find the most up-to-date information on the government’s website.

• The circumstances in which you would qualify for a full refund or be covered by travel insurance if the trip cannot go ahead. We’ve created a PowerPoint presentation for you to use at your parents’ evening.

Are 12-17s eligible for double vaccination in the UK?

It was announced in November that 16-17 year olds and 12-15 year olds would now be offered a second dose of vaccine a minimum of 12 weeks after their first dose.

12-17s can now book their first and second dose via the NHS website.

Or they can attend their nearest walk-in centre which can be found on the NHS website.

If your students are undecided about whether or not they want to take the vaccine, there are some great resources on the government's website for children, young people and their parents and guardians to help them make the choice that is right for them.

How long does it take to be double vaccinated for travel?

For under 18s, there is, at the time of writing, a minimum gap of 12 weeks between the first and second dose. For over 18s, this gap is reduced to 8 weeks.

You are considered fully vaccinated for the purposes of travel 2 weeks after you receive your second dose.

Therefore, if under 18s need to get vaccinated for their school trip, it’s advisable that they ensure they take their first dose a minimum of 16 weeks before the departure date, so that they have enough time to receive both doses.

What are the current vaccination entry requirements for under 18s in the country I’m visiting?

You can find the most up-to-date information regarding all entry requirements on the government’s website.

The Reopen EU website also has lots of useful, up-to-date information regarding vaccine entry requirements to EU countries.

You can also find further information on specific countries here:

France

Spain

Germany

Italy

Belgium

USA

Iceland

Do adults and under-18s require a vaccine passport to enter museums and restaurants in the country I’m visiting?

Some countries are requiring a vaccine passport for entry to museums, restaurants and other attractions. You can find the most up-to-date information on vaccine passports on the government’s website.

The Reopen EU website also has lots of useful, up-to-date information on current restrictions in EU countries.

Further information on specific countries can also be found here:

France

Italy

Germany

Belgium

Spain

USA

Iceland

What are the current vaccination entry requirements for returning to the UK from a non-red list country?

Please note that the exact requirements do vary slightly depending on whether you’re returning to England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

For the most up-to-date information regarding returning to England, please see the FCDO website.

For the most up-to-date information regarding returning to Wales, please see the Welsh government’s website.

For the most up-to-date information regarding returning to Scotland, please see the Scottish government’s website.

For the most up-to-date information regarding returning to Northern Ireland, please see the Northern Irish government’s website.

Do adults require a booster to travel abroad?

At the time of writing, Austria now requires adults to be triple vaccinated (or double vaccinated if jabbed with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine), or double vaccinated and recovered from Covid either before or after both vaccinations. It is possible that other countries may follow suit – please check the FCDO website for the most up-to-date entry requirements.

And the EU is in the process of ruling that its Covid-19 certificate will be valid for travel for nine months after the completion of the primary vaccination schedule. If this goes through, the rule will come into effect on 1st February 2022.

A booster will extend the validity of the pass for a currently unspecified amount of time – so it would not be unsurprising if similar rules were applied to visitors from outside the EU.

UK government advice at the time of writing is that all over 18s and all over 16s who are at risk are eligible to have a booster vaccine at a minimum of 3 months after their second dose. For the most up-to-date information on booster vaccine eligibility, please see the NHS website.

Do children need to be vaccinated to take part in school trips?

There appears to be a shift to a person-based approach rather than the infection rate of the country you arrive from.

As countries have vaccinated their children, many have started requiring all persons aged 12 years and over to be fully vaccinated to enter without the need for quarantine and some, like Spain, have even gone a step further, only allowing the fully vaccinated to enter the country at all.

There are still some countries that will allow unvaccinated under 18s to enter, but with the very real possibility of entry requirements changing quickly, being double vaccinated provides much more certainty in terms of travel.

Being double vaccinated also makes it easier for both adults and children to visit museums, restaurants and other attractions without the need for frequent testing in the growing number of countries where vaccine passes are required.

I’m not due to travel until the summer or autumn, will the vaccination entry requirements still be in place?

Vaccination for 12-17 year olds has been underway since the summer of 2021 in many countries around the world, including France, Spain and Germany.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we expect this requirement to remain in place for the foreseeable future in those countries that are already requiring all visitors to be double vaccinated. And it is highly likely that more countries will require this of visitors under 18 as we move forward.

We would, therefore, recommend that you make parents aware of this at least four months prior to travel, so that they are aware of the entry requirements and can arrange to be fully vaccinated in time for the trip, if they wish to do so.

How do children demonstrate their vaccination status?

At the moment, the digital NHS Covid Pass on the NHS app is only available to over 16s.

However, under 16s can obtain an NHS Covid Pass letter for travel via the NHS website.

How do adults demonstrate their vaccination status?

Adults can obtain their digital NHS Covid Pass through the NHS app or they can obtain an NHS Covid Pass letter via the NHS website.

Please note that if you were vaccinated as part of an official clinical trial in England, your clinical trial site needs to put your vaccine information on the NHS vaccination record. Some trial sites have done this already and the rest will do it soon. If this does apply to you and you cannot obtain your NHS Covid Pass, you will need to contact your clinical trial site for assistance.

What if someone in the group is not vaccinated in time or chooses not to be vaccinated?

Of course, if an individual chooses not to be vaccinated, it is their right to do so.

However, just like passport validity and visa requirements, in order to enter a country it is an individual’s responsibility to ensure that they meet the entry requirements set by their destination country.

Failure to do so is considered disinclination to travel and is not covered by travel insurance.

Halsbury’s Covid Guarantee also stipulates that unvaccinated passengers signing on to a Halsbury trip do so at their own financial risk and will not receive a full refund should these entry requirements be in place at the time of travel.

So, it is imperative that students signing up to your school trip are aware that it is highly likely that they will need to be double vaccinated to take part in the trip and if they choose not to be, they may not be able to participate in the trip and normal cancellation charges will apply to those individuals.

If your trip is set to travel soon and you have any students that have had their first dose but will not be able to get their second dose in time, please contact your Itinerary Coordinator for advice.

How do I prove I’m medically exempt from receiving the vaccine?

For the most up-to-date information regarding proof of medical exemption, please visit the government’s website.

Please note, all information in this article was correct as of 5th January 2022. For the most up-to-date information on vaccine requirements and other entry requirements, please visit the government’s website.

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