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US Cities with Vaccine Mandates Affecting Children

Background to Vaccine Mandates

As US authorities push for as many people as possible to get vaccinated, many cities and counties have implemented vaccine mandates, restricting unvaccinated people from entering indoor venues.

Initially these mandates only affected adults, but then became 12 years and over, and now 5 years and over, as the vaccine was offered to younger children.

Initially one dose was required, but most are now in the process of changing to, or have already changed to, requiring two doses.

Landscape blog images (600 × 1800 px)

To take the New York City "Key to NYC" example, the venues prohibited for unvaccinated children and adults include:

  • Indoor dining (including restaurants, catering halls, bars, clubs, coffee shops, fast food outlets, and grocery stores with indoor dining)
  • Indoor fitness (gyms, pools, dance studios, fitness classes, etc)
  • Indoor entertainment and certain meeting spaces (including cinemas, music and concert venues, museums, aquariums and zoos, professional sports arenas, indoor stadiums, convention centres, hotel meeting and event spaces, theatres, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls and indoor play areas)

The list below, and in the associated grid post on the @CrosswalkClan Instagram post, is by no means exhaustive - it would be too long a list!

Smiling young masked girl getting a COVID vaccine with her masked Mum and a grey haired masked nurse

If you have a trip planned to somewhere not featured here, you need to research your destination - and feel free to get in touch if you need help doing that :)

In terms of proof of vaccination, most will accept the card given at the time of vaccination - important since those 16 and under in the UK are not currently eligible to use the NHS app.

As it is unlikely that unvaccinated foreign visitors will get into the USA, this article only covers those under the age of 18.

However, like the rules for entering the US, many of these schemes have exceptions for medical exemption - if you have sufficient proof to satisfy entry requirements, you will be able to use this as an alternative to vaccination proof in these cities.

It's also important to note some important destinations that do not have vaccine mandates and likely never will, including Florida - where laws passed by Governor DeSantis have made it difficult even for private employers to implement vaccine mandates for their staff, and ban vaccine passports completely.

New York City

This is the most well known scheme outside of the UK, called the 'Key to NYC' scheme.

This restricts unvaccinated citizens and visitors from venturing inside at covered venues (the list can be found in the introduction above, or on the various links to the official website - which is essentially anywhere indoors other than shops, public transportation including airports, and their own hotel rooms.

Currently the vaccination requirements are:

  • Over 12 years: Must have proof of 2 vaccination doses
  • 5-11 years: Must have proof of 1 vaccination dose (changing to 2 doses on the 29th January 2022)


In Boston the vaccine mandate scheme is called 'Boston B-Together', and was implemented in January 2022.

The full list of covered indoor venues can be found on the link above, but is essentially the same as the New York scheme.

At the present time the Boston vaccination requirements for under 18s are:

  • Over 12 years: Must show proof of 1 vaccination dose - changing to 2 doses on February 15th 2022
  • 5-11 years: Must have proof of 1 vaccination dose starting from March 1st 2022, but changing to 2 doses on May 1st 2022.


In Chicago the mandate is officially referred to only as 'Public Health Order 2021-2, with more information here, and covers the following locations:

  • "Establishments where food or beverages are served, including but not limited to restaurants, bars, fast food establishments, coffee shops, tasting rooms, cafeterias open to the public, food courts, dining areas of grocery stores, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls, and hotel ballrooms;
  • Gyms and fitness venues, including but not limited to gyms, recreation facilities, fitness centers, yoga, pilates, cycling, barre, and dance studios, hotel gyms, boxing and kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, and other facilities used for conducting indoor group fitness classes; and
  • Entertainment and recreation venues in areas where food or beverages are served, including but not limited to movie theaters, music and concert venues, live performance venues, adult entertainment venues, commercial event and party venues, sports arenas, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, card rooms, family entertainment centers, play areas, pool and billiard halls, and other recreational game centers."

The vaccination requirements for Chicago are:

  • Over 5 years: Proof required of 'full' vaccination - i.e. 2 doses

**UPDATE Feb 13 2022: the City of Chicago has indicated that if the numbers stay positive, they will relax both their mask and vaccine mandate on Feb 28th inline with the relaxation of State-wide mandates. I will update the article when that happens **

Los Angeles

In LA, the new ordinance - implemented in November 2021, and at the time the most far-reaching in the country requires proof of vaccination to enter the indoor portions of:

  • any establishment where food or beverages are served (including restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc),
  • gyms and fitness venues, entertainment and recreation venues (including movie theatres, music and concert venues, museums and shopping centres),
  • personal care establishments (like spas and nail salons), and
  • any facilities or buildings owned or operated by the City of Los Angeles.


The Philadelphia mandate began on January 3rd 2022 and covered locations include any indoor venue that serves food or drink.

The mandate states a more detailed list of locations as:

  • Indoor restaurant spaces 
  • Cafes within larger spaces (like museums) 
  • Bars 
  • Sports venues that serve food or drink for onsite consumption 
  • Movie theaters 
  • Bowling alleys 
  • Other entertainment venues that serve food or drink for onsite consumption 
  • Conventions (if food is being served) 
  • Catering halls 
  • Casinos where food and drink is allowed on the floor 
  • Food court seating areas should be cordoned off and have someone checking vaccine status on entry to the seating area 

This mandate will not be applied in hospitals, grocery stores, convenience stores, or other establishments that primarily sell food and drink for offsite use, or in Philadelphia International Airport, except in traditional seated restaurant or seated bar style locations."

The requirements of this scheme are:

  • Over 5 years 3 months: Require proof of 1 vaccination dose (2 doses from February 3rd 2022)

New Orleans

The New Orleans vaccination mandate is a little different to those covered above, in that it includes some flexibility.

  • Over 5 years: Require proof of 1 vaccination dose (2 from February 1st 2022) OR a negative antigen or PCR COVID-19 test taken in the 72 hours before entry

Washington DC

The District of Columbia has launched a city wide vaccination entry requirement (VaxDC - Mayors order 2021-148), which requires establishments to verify that patrons are vaccinated against COVID-19.

These establishments include restaurants, food halls and taverns, cinemas, theatres and bowling alleys, coffee shops, night clubs and gyms.

  • Over 12 years: Requires proof of 1 dose (changing to 2 doses on February 15th)


Various cities in the USA have introduced vaccine mandates in an effort to encourage their citizens to get vaccinated - too many cities to detail here.

When you are in the planning stages for your next trip, if you have children over the age of 5 you need to research the details of any mandates in the cities and/or counties you plan to visit.

Even if the current rules allow your child to go inside covered venues, there is a chance that could change between when you book the trip and when you travel, so keep up to date on any changes up until you depart.


(NB - This issue affects our family personally - we have a trip booked for April/May this year which includes Los Angeles. Our children are 7 and 8 so are unlikely to be able to be vaccinated between now and when we leave - currently there are no restrictions until age 12, but this could well change in the next 3 months, meaning we would need to alter our plans. 

Such is travel in the COVID era!)