Your family may have canceled or shuffled summer plans during the height of the pandemic in 2020, hoping for a more exciting summer this year. So, as vaccination efforts ramp up and more of the U.S. population becomes fully vaccinated, you might be wondering what this summer has in store for your children.
Will the family be able to travel? Will unvaccinated children be able to visit their grandparents? What about summer camp?
It’s not entirely clear what direction the pandemic will take over the next few months. Experts are recommending we keep our guard up until more is known about how the vaccine efforts stand up against the coronavirus and its new variants.
But kids can plan for a great summer, as long as families keep these points in mind:
- Weigh benefits versus risks. As a family, try to assess your plans objectively. Flying with unvaccinated kids to a crowded theme park in a state with rising coronavirus numbers may be too risky, even though it can be good for the family’s mental health. Driving to a quieter lakeside campsite in a state with lower infection rates can be much safer and just as good for the soul.
- Research current travel guidelines. Recommendations for travel change often. Testing and quarantine requirements may vary from place to place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detailed travel guidance that is continually updated. Local health departments may have different travel restrictions and requirements, so make sure to check for up-to-date travel policies both at home and at your destination. And be aware that last-minute changes may be needed if infection rates start to rise.
- Get vaccinated before traveling. Fully vaccinated people are less likely to get infected and spread the coronavirus. So if your family was hoping to travel this summer, make sure that everyone age 16 and up gets the vaccine as soon as they can. Since younger children can’t be vaccinated yet, families need to remain careful when on the road. And keep in mind that while vaccines offer protection, health officials are still discouraging non-essential travel for now, even for people who are vaccinated.
- Get vaccinated to spend time with other people safely. Public health experts say it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to be indoors with other fully vaccinated people, even without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart. It’s also safe for fully vaccinated people to be unmasked and close to unvaccinated members of another household as long as the unvaccinated people aren’t at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. This means that children can visit vaccinated grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even hug them!
- Choose outdoor activities over indoor ones when possible. Fortunately, summertime is full of outdoor opportunities. Children can take advantage of the many fresh air activities that make summertime so special, such as bike rides, hikes and swimming. Masking, handwashing, and social distancing will still be important, but everything is much easier when the weather is warmer.
- Select summer camps wisely. During the summer of 2020, camps that opened in a cautious manner found very little spread of the virus in their campers and staff. This summer is likely to be even safer since staff members can get vaccinated. Over a year of pandemic experience has taught camp directors valuable lessons and the CDC offers instructions on how to make camp safe. Ask camp directors about their pandemic policies when making your decision about summer camps.
This summer can be a wonderful one as long as we remain cautious by wearing masks, keep our distance from others, avoid crowds, wash hands, and get vaccinated when we can. Don’t forget the sunscreen, and have fun!