Maryland pediatrician has advice on the safest activities for vaccinated kids

This holiday season, parents have questions about protecting their vaccinated children from COVID: Is it safe to get together with loved ones? How can we reduce our risk?

This holiday season, a local pediatrician is peppered with questions from parents about protecting their vaccinated children from COVID: Is it safe to get together with loved ones? How can we reduce our risk?

“Every decision you make as a parent really weighs those risks and benefits. So indoor activities without masks will be your biggest risk,” said Dr. Christina M. Brown, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in White Marsh, Maryland.

Brown said going to outdoor concerts or parades is a slightly higher risk if you and your kids are closer to others.

“Yet, an outdoor concert will be less risky than an indoor concert,” she said.

Higher risk activities include going to indoor restaurants or participating in contact sports. Longer periods of time with people outdoors can also increase the risk.

dr. Brown, pictured with daughter Allie, 5, who has just received her COVID-19 vaccination, and son Derek, 3. (Photo Christina Brown)

“So, for example, sleepovers become one of your highest-risk activities for children. If you have masks off and are together for extended periods of time, as well as multiple meals together, that’s a higher risk,” she said.

Some activities considered medium risk include decorating cookies, making gingerbread houses or other craft activities, or shopping indoors with a mask on.

Brown’s ideas for how families can get together and celebrate safely include going to outdoor light shows, going to a Christmas tree farm, spending time outside around a campfire, or going for a walk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want everyone eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (from the age of five) and the traditional flu (from six months).

The CDC has not approved children under the age of 16 for COVID-19 booster injections after their first vaccination. Those ages 5 to 15 can be given a series of two doses with a three-week break between shots. Two weeks after their second dose, they are considered fully immunized.

While the vaccine is highly effective in preventing COVID-19 and reducing the risk of serious illness and death, there are still breakthrough cases where sick or asymptomatic people can unknowingly pass the virus on to others.

“So we still want to make sure you weigh those risks and benefits in every situation. Wearing your mask when you can, social distancing, washing hands and also testing is extremely important.” said Brown.

Getting tested is vital for anyone with signs or symptoms — even if they’ve been vaccinated.

“You have to make sure you don’t have coronavirus,” Brown said. “At Kaiser Permanente, we have some drive-through tests and home testing kits that you can do. So everyone should talk to their doctor if they have any questions. That’s what we’re here for.”

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