How to protect children from COVID-19 this holiday season
It’s the 1 Nov 2021, edition of bulletin 8 to 3 on school, children and parenthood. Do you like what you read ? Sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every Monday.
It’s that time of year again. Halloween is over and before you know it, the turkey will be on the table (or Tofurky, for our vegan readers).
For many of us, this holiday season will be so much better than last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak and the household mix was dangerous. Today, 69% of California residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and the virus appears to be on the decline. New infections and deaths in the United States have fallen more than 45% since an increase in September.
And now, accessibility of vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 is within reach. The Food and Drug Administration’s panel of scientific advisers on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to recommend that access to the vaccine be extended to young children. California officials said they were preparing to deliver doses to some 3.5 million children in the state’s age range by the end of next week.
Even in the best-case scenario, however, many young children will not be fully immunized until Thanksgiving. We know children are largely protected from the worst effects of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be careful; COVID-19 now ranks eighth on the list of leading causes of death in children aged 5 to 11, claiming the lives of at least 94 children in that age group during the pandemic.
I spoke with my colleagues Luke Money and Ron Lin – who have tirelessly covered the disease and our state’s response to it – about how to keep children safe this holiday season.
Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
8 to 3: How risky are holiday gatherings for kids this year, especially those who aren’t vaccinated?
RL: It depends on the situation in which they find themselves. If parents and extended family members are vaccinated, they are fairly well protected. But things get a lot riskier if an unvaccinated person comes up with an illness and everyone is in a crowded room. This would put a child at a higher risk of getting infected.
LM: It all depends on the context of the gathering. Generally speaking, if you’re talking about a bunch of people vaccinated and a few unvaccinated children, health officials seem to think it’s probably not a big deal. But if you have elderly parents or people who are immunocompromised who may not have received the full level of protection from their vaccines, you may want to avoid large gatherings and take extra precautions.
RL: Children are really at lower risk overall. But one thing to really keep in mind is that if they are infected they will be taken out of school. It is very disturbing. They could also pose a threat to grandmother and grandfather, who can be fully vaccinated, but if they get a breakthrough infection they are at a higher risk of serious complications.
8 to 3: How does the flu season affect the risk of holiday gatherings this year? The term âtwindemicâ is circulating again.
RL: There was a lot of concern about the regular flu season when COVID was very robust last year, and that ended up not happening, largely because proven prevention methods for COVID also work. for the flu. So many businesses have been closed and the general recommendation was not to come together. And that’s just not the case this time around. There are just a lot more opportunities for people to get the flu and other respiratory illnesses. And so I think there is certainly great concern this year for the possibility of “twindemia”.
8 to 3: How can parents mitigate the risks during this gathering season, while still allowing their children to celebrate with their loved ones?
RL: The first thing they can do is make sure all visitors are vaccinated. Anyone who is eligible for the influenza vaccine, aged 6 months or older, should receive it. And the elderly and those who have received their Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive their boosters. If you want to be extra careful, take a quick coronavirus test right before the rally.
LM: We are really fortunate to have great weather here in California pretty much all year round. I know it sounds really obvious, but the outside is a lot safer than the inside, especially if people from many different places are stealing. There is no silver bullet to the pandemic, but if you layer a lot of different protections on top of each other, you are just going to make yourself and your family a lot safer and you can celebrate without too much. worries.
RL: Some experts say if their children were too young to be vaccinated, they simply wouldn’t invite unvaccinated guests.
8 to 3: Last year, many people chose to test for COVID-19 in the days leading up to the rallies. This was not always an effective safety measure, nor recommended by public health experts, as you can become contagious between the time you get tested and the gathering. With that in mind, how could COVID-19 testing be used this holiday season?
RL The difference this year is that rapid tests are more accessible. If you are about to attend an event and you take the test right before, there is a good chance that he will catch it if you are highly contagious. Laboratory PCR tests won’t be as helpful as this information will be a day or more old by the time you get the results. I think the combination of using the rapid test and the vaccination significantly reduces the risk. It was much riskier last year when no one was vaccinated, and someone attending a rally who had a false negative could lead to a potentially dire situation.
8 to 3: Is it possible for children 12 and under to have the opportunity to get vaccinated before the end of the holidays?
LM: Yes, it is certainly possible, based on the timeline that has been discussed at the federal and state levels. California public health officials say they are preparing to start immunizing children ages 5 to 11 as soon as thisâ¦ week is over, meaning some young people could potentially receive the two required Pfizer vaccines by now Thanksgiving, for example.
8 to 3: Is there anything else parents should think about as the vacation approaches?
RL: I want to point out that when these vaccines become available for young children, this does not trigger the government requirement. [Gavin] Newsom telegraphed in terms of making the vaccines required as a condition of going into public and private classrooms. This statewide requirement is unlikely to come into effect until next summer, at the earliest.
LM The pandemic is very similar to many aspects of parenting, where a lot comes down to elements of risk. I personally know parents who very much agree that their unvaccinated children are around unvaccinated adults. I also know parents on the other side of the spectrum who say if you are not vaccinated stay away we will meet you later. You must therefore determine the level of risk with which you are comfortable and act accordingly.
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What else do we read
If he can wear it to the finish line, President Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan “would arguably be the biggest victory for American families in generations,” one expert said, adding that many parents “may not yet fully realize. how much a change is coming â. Atlantic.
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