Covid-19 has once again proven that it still holds most of the trump cards. Just when parents started relaxing a little bit because infection rates began to decline, there has been a renewed upsurge in the number of people who became infected with the new delta variant at a time when a Covid-19 vaccine for kids is still nowhere in sight.
What is even more worrying is that this is happening when large numbers of children are away at summer camp, wherein social distancing and children’s face masks are not priorities. In the meantime, schools are also getting ready to open for face-to-face classes again.
According to statistics released by the CDC (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the highly contagious delta variant is behind more than 82 percent of all new Covid-19 cases in the United States. And nearly all hospitalizations and deaths caused by the disease are currently happening in individuals who have not been vaccinated.
Are children also in danger of getting Covid-19?
Many people quite mistakenly believe that children can’t get Covid-19. That is simply not correct. At the moment, kids represent 14.3 percent of all reported cases. What’s more, over the last two weeks there has been a three percent increase in the total number of children who’ve been infected with the disease since the start of the pandemic. According to available statistics, children also represent between 1.3 percent and 2.5 percent of all hospitalizations.
What is true is that a relatively low percentage of kids get seriously sick from Covid-19 and that the death rate among children is also only a fraction of that among adults. It is crucially important at this stage, however, that more research is conducted into how the virus might affect children over the long term, for example, how it could negatively impact infected children’s health and their mental and emotional health.
Many experts are also concerned that a small percentage of kids who get Covid-19 might develop MIS-C (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome). While this life-threatening illness is rare when it strikes, it can cause severe inflammation of the heart, blood vessels, skin, and eyes.
How can you keep your child safe from Covid-19?
That is probably the number one question on most parent’s minds right now. Below we briefly examine the different ways in which you can help protect your kids against Covid-19.
One of the biggest groups of unvaccinated people in the United States is children under the age of 12. Currently, no Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in this age group. The one silver lining to this dark cloud is that clinical trials are presently being carried out in kids between the ages of 6 months and 12 years – but it remains unknown when a vaccine will become available for this age group. An FDA official said a while ago that a vaccine will most likely not be approved for this age group before the winter sets in.
As things stand now, the only Covid-19 vaccine that has been given the go-ahead for emergency use among kids is Pfizer’s, and even that can not be given to children under 12.
For parents who have been vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine, the current situation is extremely stressful. Although they have good reason to worry less about themselves when they are among other people, there is no way to know whether or not the other individuals have all been vaccinated when their children are with them.
Lower vaccination rates are increasingly linked to higher infection rates, also among teenagers and even younger children. Better being safe than sorry has never been a more apt approach than right now.
2. Should your kids wear children’s face masks or not?
With so much disinformation about wearing masks doing the rounds and the new delta variant surging, many parents remain uncertain whether they should let their kids wear children’s face masks or not. Let us make this very clear: this is not a time to allow rumor-mongering to affect your decisions.
The experts are very clear about this. The California Department of Public Health recently repeated its recommendation that every individual from the age of 2, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated, should wear a face mask when in an indoor public setting. The CDPH also announced that staff members, students, and visitors must wear masks when indoors in all schools from K to 12.
Masks also remain compulsory for everyone (whether they have been vaccinated or not) on public transport, long-term care settings, homeless shelters, correctional and detention facilities, health care settings, cooling centers, and emergency shelters.
3. The importance of regularly cleaning hands
Let’s face it; children are not known for always having the cleanest hands on the planet. Combined with the fact that the smaller they are, the more often they tend to touch their (and each other’s) faces, and hand-cleaning suddenly becomes very important. After all, Covid-19 can be transmitted from any surface to your kid’s hands and from there to his or her face.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that your child always has access to a good quality hand sanitizer – and that they understand the importance of regularly cleaning their hands.
4. More tips to help keep your children safe
To help parents strike a balance between allowing their kids to attend school in the fall and enjoy their various activities while staying safe and healthy, experts recommend the following:
- Schedule social gatherings only with those family members and friends who have been fully vaccinated and who share your views on how to stay safe during the pandemic.
- When going out with family members or friends, make sure the groups are relatively small and rather go to outdoor venues with no large crowds.
- When you go out, always wear a face mask. In the first place, it will set an example for your children, and secondly, it will show support for them having to wear children’s face masks when they go out.
- Review the school’s action plans for keeping children safe. Make sure it has procedures in place should infection rates among staff and students suddenly start to increase and that these plans are properly communicated to everyone involved.
- Have conversations with the people your children are regularly associating with, including their friends’ parents, coaches, teachers, camp staff, and extended family members, to find out more about the safety measures they are practicing.
- With the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus currently taking center stage, parents should always keep themselves up to date about the latest Covid-19 vaccination rates and case numbers in their region. If there is a significant increase in the risk of getting exposed to the virus, you should reconsider whether your kids should participate in certain activities.
- Since babies and toddlers under the age of two shouldn’t wear masks because their airways are smaller than ours, and they will find it hard to breathe, you should take special precautions if you have a little one in the house. When you go out with them, always try to stay at least 6 ft from other people. And regularly sanitize your own hands and the babies. Also, regularly disinfect surfaces they often touch.
We hope we have covered most of your questions about Covid-19 and your child above. If there’s anything we missed, please feel free to visit our website to learn more. You are also welcome to give us a call right now on (954) 989-6000. Our team has been delivering world-class pediatric care for more than 60 years.