If you’re vaccinated, but your kids are not, you probably have some questions about how to handle certain situations — playdates, outdoor events, and school functions, just to name a few. And the new CDC mask guidelines, while good news, also mean parents are having to figure out more solutions. Parenting was hard enough BC (before COVID) but now, it’s a whole new ballgame. While having a vaccine available for all adults marks a promising turn, there are still plenty of precautions to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among those who are unvaccinated, including your kids.
What Are The New CDC Mask Guidelines?
On April 27, the CDC released a new set of guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated. That includes anyone for whom two weeks have passed since your second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or your jab of a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).
Here’s a rundown of some things that fully vaccinated individuals can now do, per the CDC:
- Gather indoors with other vaccinated people without masks or social distancing
- Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one single household without masks or social distancing (unless gathering with individuals at increased risk of severe illness)
- Forgo wearing a mask outdoors unless in a crowded setting or venue
- Forgo COVID-19 testing or quarantining prior to traveling within the U.S. as well as if exposed to someone with COVID-19
Even with these new guidelines in place, there are still plenty of precautions that even fully vaccinated people should take, according to the CDC. For example, fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask when indoors in public, avoid large indoor gatherings, adhere to international travel guidelines, follow workplace guidance, and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
How Does Being Fully Vaccinated Impact Your Kids?
So, if you’re vaccinated and now allowed to do more with this new protection in place, are your kids more protected from COVID-19 as well? Unfortunately, the answer is no, for now. “Kids are currently not vaccinated so they carry the same risk as all unvaccinated individuals in the general population,” Dr. Vivek Cherian, an internal medicine physician with the University of Maryland Medical System tells Romper.
While you may be fully vaccinated and allowed to do more things mask-less, the same can’t be said for your unvaccinated kiddos. “Vaccination only protects those that have been vaccinated, and currently children are unvaccinated and thus carry the risk of contracting COVID from other children that may have been exposed to it,” Cherian says.
For example, Cherian explains that children should still wear masks when attending playdates with other kids, even if all of the parents in attendance are vaccinated. The same goes for social distancing guidelines and kids as well. “My son is currently in a school that is still enforcing learning pods, and as an ethical responsibility it’s important for us as vaccinated parents to ensure that our children are still practicing proper social distancing guidelines,” Cherian says.
While the new mask guidelines allow fully vaccinated individuals to ditch their masks during most outdoor activities, the CDC has not changed its stance on kids masking up, even when outdoors. “Children over the age of 2 should still continue to wear masks if they will be in close contact (less than 6 feet apart) with other children or unvaccinated adults, even if they are outdoors,” Dr. Alexandra Yonts, an infectious disease specialist with Children’s National Hospital tells Romper. “This also applies to children during youth sporting events and practices, especially if they are participating in sports in which they are unable to stay 6 feet away from other players, either during the game or on the sidelines.”
Can My Kids Visit Their Fully Vaccinated Grandparents?
When it comes to the long-awaited visit with grandma and grandpa, the new guidelines offer a dose of hope for families. “CDC guidelines state that it is safe for fully vaccinated individuals to gather with healthy, low-risk unvaccinated people of any age (including children) from a single household without masks or physical distancing,” Yonts tells Romper. “It is worth noting that these guidelines apply to both indoor and outdoor settings. Children with symptoms of any potentially contagious infectious disease (fever, runny nose, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, etc) should continue to mask and maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from other individuals, even outdoors.”
As Romper previously reported, visiting with vaccinated grandparents really is a personal decision that “depends on what you're comfortable with.” Even if you’re vaccinated and the grandparents are vaccinated, your kids probably still are not, so it makes sense to still exercise caution.
However, Cherian suggests that it is OK for kids to remove the masks during visits with vaccinated grandparents. “Children do not need to wear masks to see their vaccinated grandparents,” Cherian says. “Children can safely see them, unmasked, in both indoor and outdoor environments. The only exception to this is if any of the children are at risk for severe COVID-19 — this includes children with congenital heart disease, genetic, or neurologic conditions to name a few.”
What Else Should Parents Know?
“While today’s move by CDC was promising, remember, the race is not over,” Cherin says about the new mask guidelines. “There is light at the end of the tunnel, but the most important thing is that we continue to exercise caution, particularly when it comes with kids because at this time, children have not been vaccinated.”
It’s exciting to think about all of the things that people can do once again when they’ve been vaccinated — so exciting — but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the pandemic is over.
“Also don’t forget there are millions of people — including children — who are immunocompromised and may not ever produce antibodies in response to an infection or if they are vaccinated,” Cherin explains. “You’ve done your part in getting vaccinated, but please encourage all your friends and family members to do their part as well so we can all reach this finish line together.”
Vivek Cherian, MD, Internal Medicine physician with the University of Maryland Medical System
Dr. Alexandra Yonts, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Children’s National Hospital