New mask guidelines for fully encapsulated individuals keep parents wondering: How can we protect young children from COVID-19?
As the infection progresses in children – some serious cases require hospitalization – parents need to be vigilant. Rosemary Olivero, MD With a pediatric infectious disease specialist Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
“I will not throw away your mask,” she said.
Under the latest guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are vaccinated against the virus outdoors and most do not wear masks in indoor settings.
However, vaccines are only available for ages 12 and up.
This means that parents of 11 children and young children must carefully navigate the risks to their families.
He advises parents to continue wearing masks in many settings even though they are fully vaccinated – as this makes it easier to show children the importance of wearing their masks.
“A lot of kids feel uncomfortable wearing masks if they don’t have parents. We have to be ready to lead by example.”
He specifically advises using masks in two settings:
- Any indoor setting, as long as you are not in your home or the people you know are called.
- Crowd outdoor events, like a festival, where you can’t socialize.
Dr. Olivero also advises keeping children out of grocery stores as much as possible. Consider using a carbide pickup or delivery.
And if the kids go to the store, try to reduce the number of shopping trips. Wear a mask, use a hand sanitizer and leave items that children touch in the store.
Plaidets and sleeveovers
For kids eager to see friends, she recommends outdoor plaidets.
“As a rule of thumb, outdoor playdates are much safer,” she said. “The data shows us a lot of potential to move the virus out.
“People don’t need masks if they’re out of the house and out of space. The farther the distance, the less risk.”
But she warns that outdoor playboys can easily enter the house. She encourages parents to set strong boundaries with other families, emphasizing the need to keep activities out.
How about sleepover?
They are not a good idea for children 11 or younger, Drs. Olivero said.
“The high risk for COVID-1 transmission comes with a long unmasked risk. And that’s what sleepover is all about,” she said. “It’s not something I recommend.”
Georgia’s summer camp illustrated the risks involved last year. The camp closed after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 and 60 campers and counselors went home. Of the Camp 344 campers tested, 76% were infected, according to A. Reported by CDC.
Dr. Olivero understands how much sleep is in children. Her own kids will love the sliverover with friends.
He suggests creating a kind of on-sleepover. Stay together until the evening, enjoying a campfire or an outdoor movie.
Then return home so that everyone can sleep in their own room.
To protect others, skip social gatherings if you are sick – or if a family member is sick, he added.
COVID-1 is still circulating in the community. If you have symptoms of the virus, Take the test.
Risk of serious illness
Spectrum health included a large number of children in the spring increase in COVID-1 infections. Most were not critically ill, some needed hospitalization. In some cases, pediatric patients need life support in the intensive care unit.
Dr. “The handful of people who have just arrived at the hospital, from infancy to adolescence, needed the level of care we saw at any other time during the epidemic,” Olivero said.
The number of peaks dropped in April and has been declining ever since. But the pediatric population is still “sick with a bit of infection,” he said.
Looking ahead to next fall, she hopes kids will need masks at school and other indoor spaces.
“We need to understand that the virus is going to be a part of our normal circulating virus that we see in the weather,” she said. “We have to prepare for it, so once the summer wind blows in, we don’t set ourselves up for general frustration and we get back to our normal routine.”