Is allergy a reason not to get vaccinated? 20:36
(CNN) – The bill for the summer camp is pending.
One of my son’s favorite camps delayed charging this summer because they weren’t sure if they would be partially or 100% online. As I sit down with this bill, after more than a year trying to avoid the coronavirus, I want my family to go out into the world again. We are lucky that your school has strict protocols, and that my work can be from home full time.
I still worry, and my son would tell you it’s another full-time job for me these days. Although the vaccine has been shown to prevent hospitalization and death, which is great news, some people can still get the virus. And while my teen will be eligible for the vaccine once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves its use in an emergency, people with children under the age of 12 are still they don’t have an answer.
And that vaccine does not change the past.
A friend lost her dear father; another to his mother. A third friend lost two of her uncles. They had to say goodbye by phone. By phone. There were no face-to-face funerals or wakes for any of them. When I tell my family that we can wait a little longer to get together, I am thinking of these friends.
I also think of my dear mother, who is 84 years old and still surprisingly says, “Don’t visit me yet.” Really? She stands firm in her belief that we don’t get on a plane and rent an expensive car to see her in California, and take her to eat Mexican food or hamburgers and to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “Not yet,” he repeats. Maybe soon. We have to take up the traditions. Pools to swim, oceans to play, parks to play, people to cuddle.
I enlisted CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen to help parents of the sandwich generation think through the tough decisions that summer brings. Wen is an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. She is also the author of the book “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health” which will be published soon.
CNN: Can we spend time with my teenage son’s friends?
Dr. Leana Wen: The short answer is yes. The longer answer is a bit more complicated. It depends on three things: the type of activity in question, the risk profile of your home and your tolerance for risk.
As we have said throughout the pandemic, it is safe to see yourself outdoors, with people from different homes separated by at least 1.80 meters. That is certainly the safest way to hang out when you have ‘mixed’ households, that is, households with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
There is growing evidence that the outdoors is much safer than indoors. A study conducted in China found only one documented case of outdoor transmission among more than 7,000 infections. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says that unvaccinated people can be outdoors, without masks, if they go out for walks with the people of their home. . However, they should wear a mask if they are going out for walks with friends from different homes or if they gather to attend events in the backyard, if they are not kept within 1.80 meters.
I think the CDC guidelines are too cautious in this case. Actually, I think most outdoor events are safe, even for unvaccinated people. I’m fine with my 3-year-old playing outside with some of his friends without a mask. However, whenever he is inside with others, he wears a mask, just like the others.
The risk profile and tolerance to it are also important. Extra caution is required if the child is severely immunosuppressed, such as a child with cancer receiving chemotherapy. And people also have different levels of tolerance for risk. They will look at the same data and come to different conclusions.
For example, let’s take the data on minors and the coronavirus: More than 3.7 million minors have been diagnosed with covid-19. According to data from 43 states, New York City, Puerto Rico and Guam, 296 children have died from the coronavirus. Some will see this data and say that they want to take all necessary precautions while their children are not vaccinated. Others will interpret this to mean that children are at much less risk than adults, and that there is no problem resuming many of the normal pre-pandemic activities once the parents are vaccinated.
They warn that confinement due to covid-19 affects children 1:28
CNN: Can my child go to a face-to-face camp?
Wen: That also depends on the camp and the precautions taken, as well as the risk profile and tolerance of the family. Let’s say your child is generally healthy and the family wants to be cautious. I would carefully study the camp you are thinking of. Talk to the person in charge and make sure their covid-19 protocols conform to the recommendations of the CDC.
Ask about the mitigation measures that are applied. Ideally, children should be outdoors as long as possible and when they are indoors, there should be good ventilation. Also, are masks required every time children are indoors? Are the children separated into groups? Is there a strict control of the symptoms? How will you know if another child tests positive and what kind of quarantine procedures are in place? Are staff required to be vaccinated?
If it is a sleepover camp, all children and staff may be considered in one group. A CDC study has found that this could be done safely, but with a lot of preparation, such as required tests before departure, quarantining for a period of time in groups, and then another series of tests. If all that is done, the children could play with each other without restrictions, even without masks or distancing.
CNN: Can we drive four hours to see the grandparents vaccinated?
Wen: Yes. The CDC says that a vaccinated household can see a household in which some people are not yet vaccinated, as long as the unvaccinated are not at high risk of serious consequences from the coronavirus. Definitely manageable to see grandparents vaccinated.
CNN: Can you travel across the country to see your grandparents vaccinated?
Wen: This depends on your tolerance for risk and the importance of the visit. The risk of flying itself is relatively low. Airplanes require the use of face masks, and there have been few documented cases of in-flight transmission when this all-important protective measure is used.
That said, not everyone will keep their masks on during the flight, especially if they eat and drink. Young children may find a cross-country flight difficult, and even more so with a mask on during that time. In addition, there are very young children, like my one-year-old son, who still cannot wear a mask. That is why we have decided not to visit South Africa yet, where my mother-in-law lives.
An 18-hour flight with a 3-year-old who is making noise and a 1-year-old who still cannot wear a mask is not something we want to do at this point.
What you decide will also depend on your specific situation. If the visit is very important, to see a sick grandparent, for example, and the children are a little older or do better on trips and wearing masks, that would tip the balance in favor of going. If the children are young and grandparent may travel, it might make more sense for the grandparents to visit the children rather than the other way around. But the risk of the trip itself for unvaccinated children is quite low.
CNN: Considering the upcoming FDA approvals, do you think most 12-15 year olds will get vaccinated this summer, before going back to school?
Wen: I think there are many, many children, and their parents, who are very willing to have this group vaccinated before they go back to school in the fall. These children are eager to get back to life as “normal” as possible. Vaccination is a mitigation layer that could replace other layers and allow many pre-pandemic activities to become safe again. Youth sports have been a source of outbreaks, for example, but they can continue with little concern if everyone involved is vaccinated. Teens who want to have sleepovers and indoor meals can do so again when vaccinated. And many families will be calm when everyone is protected. As with adults, I anticipate that there will be a group very eager to get vaccinated that will go first; then others will see that their friends get vaccinated and will want to get the benefit of the vaccine as well.
CNN: What can you expect for the fall? Will schools reopen full-time face-to-face learning?
Wen: I hope so, yes. We now know that schools can be some of the safest places for children, provided mitigation measures such as the use of masks are followed. I hope the fall will be even safer, as the number of infections decreases and more adults and older children get vaccinated. Some mitigation measures will still need to be implemented, and increased vaccination will be the key.
Let’s remember that we have two reasons to get vaccinated: to protect ourselves from serious diseases due to covid-19 and to project the protective effect of the vaccine on the community. There will be some, including younger children, who cannot yet be vaccinated. We get vaccinated, in part, to protect them too. That is our permanent obligation.