With the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use and available to all New Yorkers over the age of 12, many teens and adults are taking their opportunity to get vaccinated and are benefiting from the relaxed masking, testing and gathering guidelines for vaccinated individuals recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But what can families with children under the age of 12 do safely, especially as we enter the summer months? We asked pediatrician Dr. Charlotte Lofgren of Wolcott Pediatrics for tips on how to navigate protecting children while waiting vaccine emergency use approval in these age groups to be completed.
“Building relationships with friends and family members outside of the home is an important part of child development,” explained Dr. Lofgren. “If your child does not have an underlying condition that puts them at risk for severe COVID-19 infection or complications, you may consider getting together with another vaccinated household.”
“It’s important to remember that the more people that your child interacts with, and the longer that each of those interactions are, the more at risk they are for becoming infected with COVID-19,” said Dr. Lofgren.
The CDC currently recommends that unvaccinated people delay travel plans until they’re able to get fully vaccinated. If you’re itching to visit family you haven’t seen or if you’re looking to get out of town for a few days, there are ways to do this more safely.
“Families with unvaccinated children should consider driving rather than flying in a plane or taking a train ride, when possible,” said Dr. Lofgren. “That way, you’re spending less time next to someone who may be currently infected with COVID-19.”
When you get to your destination, look for ways to explore outdoor areas and try to avoid crowds – staying at least 6 feet from anyone that you’re not traveling with. Make sure children over the age of two are wearing their masks as much as possible and that your entire family is using hand sanitizer or washing your hands frequently.
“If you’re planning to go out to eat, look for outdoor eating options – especially as the weather gets nicer in our community,” said Dr. Lofgren. “Takeout is a great way to support local businesses and stay safe.”
There are a few reasons why eating indoors at restaurants can be risky:
If you’re planning to go out to eat indoors, try to avoid busy times of the day or night and make sure that your table is safely placed at least 6 feet away from the nearest table.
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