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What’s Safe for Families When Parents Are Vaccinated?

Families with unvaccinated children can still enjoy restaurants and play dates, but they need to do so in the least risky way possible, said Dr. Claudia Hoyen at University Hospitals Health Systems.

by Julie Washington, cleveland.com / April 1, 2021
TNS
(TNS) - You and your spouse have gotten the COVID-19 shot, but your children are too young to be immunized. Is it safe for your family to visit grandparents, go to restaurants or join another family for a play date?
 
Our readers have questions about the coronavirus vaccine, and cleveland.com is getting answers from health care experts.
 
Q. What is it safe for families to do if parents are vaccinated but their kids aren’t?
 
Families with unvaccinated children can still enjoy restaurants and play dates, but they need to do these and other activities in the least risky way possible, said Dr. Claudia Hoyen, director of infection control at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and co-director for University Hospitals Health Systems.
 
“We don’t want the spread to continue,” Hoyen said. “The light is at the end of the tunnel. We have to hang tight for the next couple of months.”
 
In Ohio, everyone 16 and up is now eligible to receive a vaccine. However, whose who are immunized can still become infected with COVID-19. The vaccine protects against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
 
Young children are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, because the initial trials did not test the vaccines in young age groups. Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is authorized for use in people aged 16 and older. Moderna’s is designated for 18 and older.
 
Pediatric vaccine trials involving children are starting, but results aren’t expected for several months.
 
We could know more soon. Pfizer and BioNTech announced Wednesday that its vaccine, which has been approved for emergency use in people 16 and older, is safe and effective in kids aged 12 to 15 years old. A phase three clinical trial showed the shot is 100% effective and well tolerated in teens.
 
Questions about what unvaccinated kids can do safely require families to ask tough questions about their risk tolerance.
 
A recent study by ParentsTogether, a nonprofit family advocacy group, found that:
 
About 26% of Black parents said they would “probably not” or “definitely not” vaccinate their children, nearly twice the rate of white parents (15%) or Hispanic parents (13%)","type":"text
 
Those with annual household income of under $35,000 were significantly more likely to say that they will “definitely not” or “probably not” vaccinate their children (23%) than those with incomes over $75,000 (8%).","type":"text
 
While pediatric cases of COVID-19 are low nationwide, children need to be protected because the illness can lead to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. Organs and tissues — such as the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, digestive system, brain, skin or eyes — become severely inflamed. MIS-C is rare, and most children who have it improve, but some kids rapidly get worse.
 
While pediatric cases of COVID-19 are low nationwide, children need to be protected because the illness can lead to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. Organs and tissues — such as the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, digestive system, brain, skin or eyes — become severely inflamed. MIS-C is rare, and most children who have it improve, but some kids rapidly get worse.
 
“If people who are unvaccinated are gathering, there is risk of them acquiring and transmitting COVID-19,” said CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
 
“For now, while the United States has a high baseline level of coronavirus circulating, it’s best for families with any unvaccinated individuals to see one another outdoors only, with members of different families spaced 6 feet apart,” Wen said to CNN. “If children are playing together and can’t always abide by 6-foot distancing, they should be wearing masks.”
 
Families should try to be outdoors, and wear masks when indoors, Wen said.
 
Here is Hoyen’s advice about how vaccinated parents with children too young to be immunized can approach several common scenarios. Families with underlying medical conditions, specific risk factors or concerns should consult their pediatrician:
 
Visiting grandparents who are fully vaccinated.
 
The grandparents can host one family at a time, but should not hold a large gathering with unvaccinated children from multiple households, she said.
 
Be sure the kids have not just come from a recent large gathering. Keep the gathering outdoors. Wash hands frequently and consider wearing masks.
 
Visiting grandparents who are not fully vaccinated.
 
“I wouldn’t recommend that right now,” Hoyen said. Older people are at risk for severe COVID-19.
 
Family meal at a restaurant
 
The safest plan is to get take-out and eat it at home or in a park. Another good option is eating outdoors at the restaurant.
 
When eating indoors, take your mask off only to eat or drink. Put it back on between sips and bites. Don’t mingle with people from other households.
 
Play dates with other unvaccinated kids
 
Stick with the families within your pandemic bubble. Meet with one family at a time. Keep kids outdoors, or masked if indoors.
 
If the family is not part of your bubble, keep the kids outside and masked. Head home after a half-hour.
 
Family vacation
 
Driving is the safest plan. If you fly, be cautious in the airport and on the plane. Wear masks, wash hands and wipe down your area.
 
Make your own food, if possible, and avoid restaurants while away from home.
 
Your coronavirus vaccine questions answered:
 
Are you contagious if you have side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?
 
Are you ‘less immune’ to the coronavirus if you don’t have vaccine side effects?
 
Can I still get my second dose of coronavirus vaccine if I develop COVID-19 symptoms after the first?
 
Can you mix and match two doses of coronavirus vaccine from different manufacturers?
 
Can you request one coronavirus vaccine if you have concerns about the other?
 
Coronavirus vaccine misinformation permeates social media: Here are the facts to counter six false claims
 
How will local drug stores keep the coronavirus vaccine on site if it needs to be cold? How will they avoid waste?
 
If Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are for people 16 and older, what does that mean for children? What about minors with pre-existing conditions?
 
If the coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective, how will you know if you’re in the other 5%?
 
Should cancer patients get the coronavirus vaccine?
 
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Should you get the second vaccine if you contract COVID-19 after your first coronavirus vaccine dose?
 
What if you contract COVID-19 in between your two coronavirus vaccine doses?
 
Who should skip the second shot of coronavirus vaccine? We’ve got answers
 
Why do I need to keep a mask on if I’ve been vaccinated for coronavirus?
 
Will your COVID-19 vaccine be less effective if you need to wait longer for the second dose?
 
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