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Doctors explain how to keep young kids safe until vaccine is approved

People with young kids are wondering what's safe once parents are fully vaccinated.

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There's still no COVID-19 vaccine approved for children under the age of 16, and people with young kids are wondering what's safe once parents are fully vaccinated. They can be around vaccinated family members, but what about getting together with other children or going out in public?

    “I think it’s important for kids to have something closer to normal activities, be it returning to in-person to school, doing their sports, their social activities as long as they continue to be careful,” Dr. Kawsar Talaat, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.

    The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are clear for those who are vaccinated as they can be indoors in small groups with no masks, but there is no vaccine approved for kids under 16, so what about indoor playdates?

    “It’s probably still a good idea to keep the kids masked inside as much as you can,” Talaat said.

    Outside is still the safest bet. Doctors said it’s OK to take your kids to stores as long as everyone is wearing masks but: “I would continue to be careful inside restaurants, especially restaurants that are crowded and there's a lot of people because there could be the potential for disease transmission.”

    “The key to being out and about is that there are many different ways to reduce the chances of getting COVID,” said Dr. Andrea Berry, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “So, physical distancing wearing a mask, hand hygiene, washing your hands and not kind of spending a lot of time in crowded indoor spaces.”

    Doctors said for those who are unvaccinated, like children, the safety depends on how much community transmission is happening. As that goes down everything gets safer.

    “If the community transmission goes down really, really low, it’s really unlikely for there to be virus they can be infected with,” Talaat said.

    And as more and more adults get vaccinated that becomes more likely, so experts say yes, you can do more things with your kids now but, until there's a vaccine for them, don't totally throw caution to the wind.

    “I think that maybe we can be less scared but still adhere to our public health guidance and adhere to the science and the research that kind of guides us to do the right things,” Berry said.

    Doctors are hopeful there will be a vaccine approved for kids 12 and up this summer.