Many parents have already received their COVID vaccines and many more expect to get vaccinated in the coming weeks. Most kids, on the other hand, won’t be able to get vaccinated for months. So what activities are safe for vaccinated parents to do with their unvaccinated kids?

In general, we advise families to continue to stick with the original Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations when it comes to large family gatherings and groups of people: wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, stay 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated areas and wash your hands often with soap and water.

Should we plan vacations for summer?

We don’t know what the future will look like, but there is reason for optimism that this summer will be better. By that point vaccine eligibility will be open to everyone, and there’s also some hope on the horizon that soon we will see vaccines for kids 12-16 years old. If we can really continue to do our part and slow the rates of transmission, some summer travel may be possible.

With that in mind, it’s best to plan trips that are refundable and to stick to domestic travel, which is lower risk than international travel. Driving is also safer than flying, so go on a road trip if possible.

What about birthday parties?

Birthday parties can be fun and safe if you keep them small — under 10 kids — and everyone wears masks. Unfortunately, blowing out candles is not the best idea, but if your child is really set on candles, get cupcakes and let them blow out a candle on their personal cupcake.

This is a time for parents to get creative and make a memorable pandemic birthday party – for example, have a picnic outside, organize a scavenger hunt or do arts and crafts separate from each other.

Are outdoor playgrounds and parks safe?

Parks are relatively low risk compared to many indoor activities. It’s best to go when the park isn’t as busy and to remain at a safe distance from others to avoid being exposed to too many people. If the park is crowded, find an area where there are fewer people. Get creative and explore things that are off the beaten path. And don’t forget to mask, hand wash, sanitize and make sure to keep 3-6 feet from others as long as you can.

Is it okay to go swimming?

If you go swimming, make sure to ask the facility about contact tracing, symptom screening and what measures they’re taking to keep everyone safe. Note how careful the facility and other swimmers are being and use your best judgment.

What about indoor dining?

Indoor dining is one of the riskier activities you can do. It’s best not to take your kids inside a restaurant.

Remember we’re super close — we’re almost at the cusp of things improving but also at the cusp of another surge. If we are cautious, we’ll be closer to doing whatever we want much sooner.


Lee Beers Lee Beers, MD, is a general pediatrician at Children’s National and the medical director of the Child Health Advocacy Institute.

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