The Kansas City Star: How to keep your unvaccinated kids COVID-safe in Kansas City? Doctors offer answers
By Lisa Gutierrez
With no COVID-19 vaccine available yet for children younger than 12, parents are asking how to keep them safe, especially now with the highly contagious delta variant gripping the metro and schools starting up again soon.
The short answer: Mask up indoors in public, including schools — even if it’s not required. Get sick children tested — remember COVID testing? And make sure Mom and Dad are vaccinated.
It’s unclear when a vaccine will be available to children under 12 — fall at the earliest.
So we asked medical experts to answer parents’ questions about school, travel, visiting unvaccinated relatives and more:
SHOULD MY UNVACCINATED CHILD WEAR A MASK BACK TO SCHOOL?
Yes, many experts say, even if the school does not mandate it — and as of now, most in the Kansas City area do not.
“The CDC was pretty clear about fully vaccinated people not needing to wear masks out in public,” said Dr. Angela Myers, division director of infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy. “But kids under 12 have not been able to be vaccinated up until this point, so they should have continued to be masked.
“I’m not talking about while outside and playing outside. I’m talking about when they’re in groups of people or when they’re indoors and things like that.”
Like at school.
“I hope that for schools that aren’t requiring masks, if a child is wearing a mask at school and they’re one of the few or only ones, that the school has a very tough anti-bullying policy,” said Myers.
“Because it’s going to be really important to support those kids who are bravely wearing their masks when others aren’t doing it when they know their parents want them to and they want to keep themselves safe. Or maybe they have a disease that makes them at higher risk for severe infection.”
DO I REALLY NEED TO GET VACCINATED?
Parents of unvaccinated children need to get the shot themselves so they don’t infect their kids, pediatricians said.
WHAT ABOUT BEING AROUND UNVACCINATED PEOPLE?
Unvaccinated people are infecting local children, pediatricians report.
WHAT ABOUT BEING AROUND UNVACCINATED FAMILY MEMBERS?
Parents have to weigh the benefits and risks, pediatricians said.
For instance at gatherings where other people might not be vaccinated, being outdoors is better than being indoors.
“I think part of the thing you have to think through is, are the people who are unvaccinated typically very careful, meaning are they wearing a mask out in public, not going to large gatherings, (being) really good about hand washing and kind of keeping their distance from people?” Myers said.
CAN WE GO ON VACATION?
Yes. But parents might reconsider vacationing in places with high COVID and low vaccination rates, pediatricians recommend.
“I think probably now is not the time to be hanging out at the Lake of the Ozarks or Branson because the case rates are so high,” said Myers.
Read the full article via The Kansas City Star
Learn more about the COVID vaccine at Children's Mercy
Learn more about COVID-19 Testing at Children's Mercy