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Father helping his son put on protective face mask.

Betwixt and Between: Masking During the Summer of COVID-19

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Julie Hoegger, DNP, CPNP
Published Date: Tuesday, August 3, 2021

By Julie Hoegger, DNP, CPNP, Hampton Roads Pediatrics

As more people shed masks that protect against COVID-19, let’s not forget that children younger than 12 still aren’t able to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

So what’s a family to do?

Health officials predict the vaccines will be available to younger children by the end of the year, but in the meantime, some families are struggling to figure out what to do if older children and parents are vaccinated but younger ones are not.

Here’s some advice from experts.

First, encourage as many eligible people in your family and circle of acquaintances to be vaccinated. The vaccine is widely available and serious side effects are very rare.

Favor outdoor activities over indoor ones. The risks are much lower outside. Children don’t need to wear a mask outdoors if they are with family members and friends who are vaccinated.

Avoid crowds, indoors and outdoors. Unvaccinated people, including children, should wear masks in indoor public spaces. With the increase in the highly transmissible delta variant, more indoor places are requiring masks for everyone, so follow recommendations.

Wear masks when seeking medical treatment. Remember that CHKD Health System facilities and other healthcare settings still require masks for those 2 and older who are able to wear a mask safely.

Stick to nearby travel destinations. Traveling close to home in your own vehicle is safest. If you are traveling with younger family members, make sure they are masked as much as possible when they are around others. Also, adhere to physical distancing, and use good hand hygiene.

Look for quiet beaches and parks. Thanks to the wide open space, these are lower risk destinations, but as always, if it becomes crowded, your child should maintain six feet of distance from others. If that’s not possible, wear a mask.

Support younger members of your family. If your child is reluctant to be the only one wearing a mask in a store or other indoor setting, put your own on as well. More stores and public venues are requiring them for everyone to protect against the rise of the delta variant of COVID-19.

Keep track of symptoms. If anyone in your family is feeling sick or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home and call your doctor.

Touch base with family members and friends in your bubble. Ask people you spend a lot of time with to report any exposures or symptoms — and share that information with your own family and friends. Isolate as needed.

Recognize that different families and people will weigh risks differently. Families are often balancing tension between physical safety and mental health. An immunocompromised family may be less risk-tolerant. A family that lost someone to COVID-19 may be more cautious than one that hasn't been personally touched by the virus. On the other side of the equation, a family concerned with the effects of a young child's mental health and development might be more willing to do activities with others, as long as it’s done in a safe way.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.