**Risk of infection is individual and decisions should always be made after discussion with a trusted health care provider**
In the past few months, most vaccinated adults had the luxury of starting to live life with less worry. They've started eating out and engaging in more normal activities, mostly maskless. But if you’ve had kids, you know that’s not really been true for you. You might have loosened up a little for sanity's sake, without feeling protected. So now that the delta variant is on the rise in kids and there’s no vaccine yet available for those under 12, how do you handle events and gatherings? Should you bring your kid to (the wedding, dance class, birthday party)?
There is no 100% right answer. The safest answer is to keep them always home and limit family gatherings, but we know that’s taking a toll too. Kids need school, social interaction, and activity. So how can you weigh the risks? Below are some questions to consider when deciding whether to stay or go.
1. What’s the COVID community transmission where you live/where you are going?
Some places are just riskier than others! Florida is really high right now (as is Austin, Tx), but other states are doing ok (especially those with a high vaccination rate). The higher the transmission rate, the higher the chance that your child will encounter COVID and become sick.
Not sure what your community transmission is? See HERE for the CDC's stats.
2. What’s the crowd like where your child will be interacting? Mostly vaccinated and taking responsible steps to reduce exposure/transmission?
A crowd of vaccinated people is still a risk, but much lower than a group of 150 who are unvaccinated. If there are a lot of people who have regular exposure to unvaccinated people (especially inside and without masks), then they could definitely become infected and pass on COVID to your child (even without knowing it). Vaccination isn’t a 100% guarantee you won’t get or transmit COVID, but it’s way less likely.
3. Will there be masking? (And respect for masking requests?)
Masking means more protection for your child! Especially when everyone is masking appropriately. It’s not perfect protection, but it helps!
4. How big is the event?
Large gatherings are riskier than small gatherings!
5. Is the activity indoors or outdoors?
We know this one - COVID is more likely to be transmitted in enclosed spaces.
6. Do you have to fly to get there?
The plane itself is probably not an issue, but the airport might be!
7. Are you vaccinated?
Assuming you are also being exposed when your child is, you are another potential source of infection, so you (and your immediate family) being vaccinated lowers the chance that you will spread COVID to your child.
8. Does your child have any major health conditions? Immune problems, lung problems, heart problems? How old is your child?
Some of these are riskier than others with COVID, so best to have a discussion with your provider about the implications of your child getting sick. Kids with underlying conditions are more likely to be hospitalized. Adolescents are also more likely to be hospitalized than younger children (but luckily they can get the vaccine!)
9. How important is the event or activity to your family/child?
In full disclosure, I had a 30ish person wedding in September 2020 (when no one was vaccinated yet) and my niece and nephew flew in for it. It was a big discussion, but it was also a huge life event. Ultimately, we decided it was worth the risk, but it was a little nerve-wracking at the time! I'm glad we did it, but if one of those cuties got sick, I would have felt terrible.
10. Do you feel uncomfortable going?
This is totally valid!! If you’ll be anxious and worried, maybe find another outlet (a different class, a different sport, activities with a small group you trust, attend on Zoom if that’s an option, plan a separate visit where you re-enact the wedding with immediate family) instead.
There are families making all kinds of choices out there. Make the choice that works best for YOU and your family, and don’t feel pressured by others. This fall and winter will continue to be tricky, so it's best to decide how to handle these dilemmas now! You've got it, and just remember, you're doing a great job in a really difficult time!