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Louisville doctor explains how to keep children safe until they can get COVID vaccine

Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - What’s the best way to keep children safe and healthy as parents get the COVID-19 vaccine and their children still cannot?

It’s a question many are asking with vaccines only approved for those 16 and older, according to Dr. Kristina Bryant, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Norton Children’s Hospital.

Bryant told WAVE 3 News she recommends vaccinated parents adhere to the same precautions they followed before they got the shot. If families choose to participate in gatherings between multiple households or travel, Bryant says there is still some risk.

“People are deciding to do these things, no matter what CDC says, so then the question needs to be, let’s remember the risk,” she said. “It’s not back to business as usual, we need to think about if we’re going to do these things, acknowledge there’s risk and then think about how to do it more safely.”

Regarding public outings, Bryant said social distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene are still essential safety practices for people both vaccinated and unvaccinated. She explained that families should still try to avoid large gatherings where social distancing is difficult.

“If you’re going to a public place can you go at a time where there’s not a lot of crowds and you’re not standing shoulder to shoulder with other people,” she said.

When it comes to private gatherings, like birthday parties, Bryant said mask-less gatherings among multiple households are still discouraged even if all adults are vaccinated. She recommends smaller gatherings if families choose to attend or host a private event.

“If people decide to do that, can you plan something small, and can you do it outside with people wearing masks,” she said.

If private gatherings involve only two households, Bryant said families can have more confidence they will be safe as long as adults are fully vaccinated and there’s not increased COVID risk for those unvaccinated.

“Many of us gave a cheer earlier this year when the CDC said if grandparents, they can visit their unvaccinated grandchildren as long as there is nobody in either household unvaccinated that’s at increased risk,” she said. “If you have an unvaccinated person maybe it’s a child with special health care conditions, maybe it’s another person in the household, then you still have to take precautions.”

When it comes to traveling and vacations, Bryant said non-essential travel is still discouraged, but there are ways to try and make it safer. She recommends private transportation over plane travel and encourages families to pack additional safety gear like hand sanitizer and develop safety plans before departing.

“All of the safety strategies families employ at home don’t go out the window on vacation, the question then becomes how do you employ those same safety strategies when traveling,” she said.

Families following safety guidelines that are still concerned about their unvaccinated children may find their children are eligible for clinical vaccine trials.

A pediatric trial expected to start in June will study the Pfizer vaccine in children between 5 and 11 years old. For more information contact Kentucky Pediatric/Adult Research in Bardstown at (502) 349-1569 or email kpar@kpar.us.

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