Summer is about to be sweeter for kids and their parents. At least that’s what the pediatrician Elizabeth Hill, MD, expect to have lifted warrants for vaccinated adult masks across the country.
“There’s a lot of anxiety in lifting these mask mandates and what that means, but I just want to emphasize that we’re lucky that these recommendations come out in the spring,” Hill says. “There are countless health benefits to outdoor play and I’m excited that this can push kids more outdoors this summer because there are fewer restrictions on outdoor play [for unvaccinated children]”.
Hiking, cycling, playing kickball, looking for insects in the backyard; these activities and more should be considered safe so that children can do so with maskless friends.
“Evidence shows that outdoor activities have a very, very low risk,” says Hill, who is also a mother of three young children. “There are very few known cases of transmission in an outdoor environment. I feel very comfortable with my kids playing outdoors without masking. ”
This is great news as the weather warms up and summer approaches. Children may have more opportunities to go outside than in 2020 and parents will more than ever have a reason to encourage outdoor play thanks to their relative safety of COVID-19.
Still, Hill says his behavior will be partly dictated by the families he is socializing with. If another parent prefers their children to wear masks to play outdoors, she says she is happy to comply.
Can children do indoor activities without a mask?
But what about eating indoors, sleeping, and traveling to the movies? Can children resume these activities without a mask as long as they are not vaccinated? After all, it can be a long time before the vaccine is approved in children under 12 years of age.
“Kids still have to be masked when they socialize indoors in most circumstances,” Hill says.
MORE THAN MICHIGAN: Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The exceptions would be small meetings that are within CDC guidelines, such as vaccinated grandparents visiting unvaccinated grandchildren. In these cases, the CDC has stated no need to wear masks or practice social distancing.
Hill says he gets a lot of questions from families about whether or not they can do certain activities, and says it has a lot to do with the family’s personal situation.
“It depends on what the family really does, the health of the members of that family, the other activities they can do, and the tolerance of each family’s individual risk,” Hill says. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each family must decide where it falls with its level of comfort.
Families also need to decide which indoor activities are most important to them and what risks they are willing to take.
It should be noted that children who have had COVID in the past still need to wear masks indoors. While we know a great deal about how well-protected people are vaccinated against COVID and prevents transmission, we know less about how having COVID in the past affects the future risk of transmission. For now, if you are not vaccinated but have had COVID in the past, you still need to mask yourself inside.
What if my child or someone in my household is immunocompromised?
Children who are immunocompromised or at higher risk for serious illness for any reason should definitely take more precautions than a child without these risk factors. This also happens with children living with someone who is immunocompromised or at high risk for serious illness. In these special circumstances, it is always a good idea for families to discuss best practices with their doctor.
I haven’t gotten back to normal yet: COVID is still here
The end of the mask’s term does not mean the pandemic is over. Things have not returned to normal, Hill says.
“There are still things we need to avoid,” Hill says. “Having a night’s sleep with a different child every weekend is a very risky practice. But if two families are very “together” together and already spend a lot of time indoors without masking together, a night’s sleep between these children may not pose a much greater risk. “
“We see more spread of this virus when there are many points of contact, so keeping the inner bubble small is still important,” Hill says.
This means that families should be careful in situations where the vaccination status of adults may be unknown or unclear. The CDC considers small indoor meetings that mix vaccinated and unvaccinated people from multiple households to be “less safe” and suggests unvaccinated people masking and practicing social distancing in these cases.
For unvaccinated individuals, the CDC recommends masks in any indoor setting and at crowded outdoor events. Even wearing a mask, eating indoors, attending full-service worship services, and singing in an inner choir are some of the CDC’s rated activities as “less safe.”
Parents will need to evaluate summer activities such as camping to make sure they follow CDC guidelines. Fully vaccinated people should “continue to take preventative measures, including masks,” when working in youth settings, including camps, According to the CDC.
If families with unvaccinated children want to travel, they should assess the risks, and vaccinated adults should make sure to follow the latest CDC guidelines as they evolve. Right now, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated adults still wear masks on all forms of public transportation, including airplanes.
Still, Hill says he looks forward to seeing “normal things for kids” in his general pediatric practice, such as skinny knees, contoured elbows and a renewed focus on regular summer safety tips, such as wearing helmets for to bicycles and sun protection.
Do you like podcasts? Add the file Michigan Medical News turned on iTunes, Google Podcast or anywhere you listen to podcasts.