How does vaccinating children change Thanksgiving? expert weighing
But is it time for Thanksgiving? Will we be able to congregate more easily because more children are being vaccinated? What precautions should we take? What if travel is required? What about children who are too young to be vaccinated?
CNN: I’ve heard from many parents who are very relieved that their 5- to 11-year-olds can get the Covid-19 vaccine. Was this your experience too?
Doctor. Lina One: Relief, sure, because a lot of parents are concerned about their children’s exposure to the coronavirus at school. Parents were also concerned about their exposure at work, and inadvertently returning Covid-19 to their children. Many families make plans for what they will be able to do soon, once their family is fully vaccinated.
CNN: Can families relax on Thanksgiving once their children are vaccinated?
Since the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 was just made available last week, these young children won’t be fully vaccinated in time for Thanksgiving. (The only exception would be children who were enrolled in the clinical trial and who received the vaccine.)
Most kids who get their first doses now will have partial protection by Thanksgiving. I would not recommend that they act as if they were fully vaccinated. Continue to be careful for now, especially because they are so close to a full vaccination.
CNN: Does that mean families with younger children can’t get together on Thanksgiving?
Wen: not at all. It just means that parents should not consider their children fully vaccinated if they only have one injection. Families with children who have been partially vaccinated need to continue to take extra precautions.
If a lot of people are meeting, especially with other unvaccinated people, the safest thing to do is gather outdoors. If an indoor gathering is planned, I would advise everyone to reduce their risk and basically quarantine for at least three days before the meeting, then get tested for Covid-19 on the day of the gathering. An over-the-counter rapid antigen test is good for this.
CNN: In those three days, what if the kids had to go to school and the adults had to go to work?
Wen: It is difficult for everyone to stop their lives before meeting. I would encourage people to do their best to reduce risk in this period. People who go to school and work where they will be near others who do not have an unknown vaccination status should wear high-quality masks when indoors. Do not go to crowded indoor bars or restaurants, or meet with other people, indoors, during that time.
This method, to reduce risk and then test, will not prevent all cases of Covid-19. At this point in the pandemic, most people are not aiming to eliminate all risks, but to reduce risks enough so that we can restart activities that are really important in our lives. This includes seeing loved ones at Thanksgiving.
CNN: Should adults try to get booster shots before Thanksgiving, if they qualify? Will this also help protect children?
CNN: What advice would you give to families who need to travel during Thanksgiving?
Wen: Wear a quality mask when you are indoors and outdoors. I prefer N95, KN95 or KF94. Try not to remove the mask, except for short sips of water. For younger children or individuals who need to eat a lot, try to find a place away from others while eating.
CNN: A lot of families have children who are in the mixed vaccination state — some kids who are fully vaccinated, others who just got their first vaccinations, those who are still too young to get vaccinated. How should they deal with the upcoming holidays?
Wen: The family should discuss the level of risk they are willing to take. It would be reasonable to allow a fully vaccinated teen to see her fully vaccinated friends to sleep, even if a younger child is now getting an injection. But parents can draw the line and say that the vaccinated teen is unable to attend an indoor concert where she will be surrounded by a lot of unconvinced people from the unknown vaccination status. Children who have been partially vaccinated should continue to take extra precautions for now, with their full vaccinations expected on the next set of holidays in December.