For many people across the country, this vaccine has seemed like a lifesaver — a way for all of us to get back to something approaching our pre-pandemic normal. If you want to hear my thoughts on the various COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved so far, you can read all about them here. But today I thought I’d address one particular question that’s been cropping up a lot lately: “Why can’t my kids get vaccinated?”
The simple truth is that the original trials for the vaccines were conducted on people aged 16 and up, and, as a result, we don’t yet know how kids will react to them. Pfizer has conducted trials on children age 12-15, and the results so far are promising! In fact, children in that age group could potentially start receiving the vaccine as early as next month. But children ages 11 and younger likely won’t be eligible until early 2022. This means that a lot of parents will have received the vaccine when their unvaccinated children can’t. As we go on, I’ll lay out some ways for these parents to make sure that both they and the children can lead safe and healthy lives until the end of the pandemic.
“What risk does COVID-19 pose to my kids?”
Fortunately, COVID-19 poses less of a threat to kids than it does to adults. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it poses no risk at all. There have been cases of otherwise healthy children coming down with very severe and deadly cases of COVID-19. In kids with pre-existing medical conditions, it can become an especially deadly illness. And though most children will survive the virus, the long-term effects it may have on their overall health are simply unknown. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to keep your kids in quarantine for another year. There are ways for your kids to lead happy, healthy, and safe lives, even if the pandemic isn’t over just yet.
“If COVID-19 is so dangerous, can my kids do anything safely?”
While there’s no way to entirely eliminate the threat of COVID-19, there are ways to mitigate the risks. Outdoor events, for example, are far safer than indoor ones. So if you want your child to celebrate their birthday party with their friends, that’s still an option! However, instead of taking them to Chuck E Cheese, you should probably take them to a local park instead. I would recommend that you keep the group small — ideally no more than 10 children at a time — but as long as they wear masks and social distance they should be relatively safe. It may not be ideal, but it’s far preferable to celebrating a special occasion over Zoom.
“My child likes to play sports. Can they do that safely?”
Unfortunately, wearing masks and socially distancing just isn’t practical when your kids are engaged in an intense game of soccer. But physical activity is an important aspect of your child’s life, and there are ways to make that activity safer.
The good news is that the weather is finally warming up throughout the country, meaning there are sunny days and blue skies ahead of us. And while COVID-19 might not be able to tolerate the heat very well, us humans sure can! So if your kids like to play basketball, take them to an outdoor court! If they like to swim, find an outdoor pool. This won’t eliminate the risk of COVID-19, but it will be very much reduced.
“Can my children visit their vaccinated relatives?”
Being isolated from close relatives is undoubtedly one of the worst parts of this pandemic. But if your relatives are now vaccinated, then a visit from your kids might be just what the doctor ordered!
The jury is still out on just how effective the vaccines are at preventing transmission of COVID-19, but the results so far have been quite good. Vaccinated people can sometimes catch the disease, but they rarely transmit it to others. So if your kids want to hug their grandma, it’s fairly safe for them to do so. But if you want to be extra safe, you can have them wear a mask and socially distance.
“Can I send my kids to summer camp?”
Summer camp is an important experience for many young children, one that allows them to make friends, develop social skills, and have some good old fashioned fun! But many parents are understandably anxious about sending their kids away while the pandemic is still raging.
If you want to know whether it’s safe to send your kids to any given summer camp, I recommend you do some research about what precautions the camp is taking. The CDC has written a series of guidelines for these camps to operate safely, which you can read in full here. The precautions include properly ventilating buildings, mandatory quarantine periods for campers, and, of course, requiring masks. These guidelines appear to be effective so far, and there have been no major outbreaks in camps that followed them. Camps that failed to follow the guidelines, on the other hand, have quickly become hot spots for COVID-19. This doesn’t make the guidelines absolutely foolproof, but they do provide a measure of safety.
“My child’s school is resuming in person learning. Can I send them there safely?”
Much like summer camps, the CDC has developed a series of guidelines for schools to follow as we navigate this pandemic. Schools that have followed these guidelines have seen very few outbreaks, and have been able to resume in person learning safely. Yes, there are still risks, but your child’s education is also highly important. So if your child’s school is following the CDC guidelines then you should feel relatively safe dropping them off at 8 AM every day.
“Okay. But what other things can I do without endangering my children?”
There are probably a lot of things that you want to do now that you’re fully vaccinated. For example, you may want to take your family out for a nice dinner. And here’s the good news; you can. If you bring your kids with you, I recommend you stick to outdoor dining. But, if it’s just you and the vaccinated members of your family, then you can consider dining indoors. While there is still some risk of you catching the virus and transmitting it to your children, the odds of that happening appear to be very low indeed.
You may also want to take a vacation with your kids, but if you do, I recommend a road trip. You won’t be packed in with a bunch of strangers, like you would be on an airplane. It’ll just be you and the immediate members of your family. Wherever you go, I recommend you avoid large crowds and continue to wear masks. You should also listen to what local officials tell you about coronavirus, and take any safety precautions that they deem necessary.
“Is there anything else I should do?”
You should talk to your child about what sort of things they want to do, and then see if it’s possible to accommodate them. You can’t take them to a waterpark to have a giant party, but it may be that they’d enjoy having two or three friends over to play on the slip’n slide. You might not be able to give them a full family reunion, but maybe you can take them to visit grandma. Get creative; your children will appreciate it!
This a challenging time for all of us, but especially for our kids. But the good news is that with vaccines on the way, the worst part is coming to an end. Soon our kids will be able to laugh and play just as they did before. And in the meantime, there are still plenty of ways for them to have some fun in the sun.
As always, we’re happy to discuss your health needs. Just contact our office to set up an appointment.