What activities are safe for children too young for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Summertime and the living is easy – except maybe for children too young at this time for the COVID-19 vaccine and their parents who might be concerned about what summertime activities are safe for the whole family.
“Now that summer’s here and the COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out, we are all eager to make up for lost time,” says Dr. Jasjit Singh, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and medical director of infection prevention at CHOC. “But with younger children not yet eligible for the vaccine, coupled with variants and the unknown vaccination status of others, parents are understandably concerned about what activities are safe.”
When making decisions, Dr. Singh recommends parents consider the unvaccinated child’s and other household members’ risks of COVID-19 complications, community COVID-19 transmission rates and community COVID-19 vaccination rates.
But to serve as a general guide, Dr. Singh answers parents’ questions here about what summertime activities are a go for unvaccinated children – and which might be best to delay a while longer.
Can my unvaccinated child attend a summer camp or class?
Yes. Outdoor summer camps or classes are preferable to indoor opportunities. If children are outdoors in large groups without much ability to space out, I would recommend they wear masks. If the children are outside and able to keep distance, it’s OK to take off their masks. If they venture inside at all, they should wear a mask.
If an indoor camp or class is the only option, I would select one featuring small groups of children and where they can maintain 6 feet of distance from others. They should also wear masks.
In either scenario, I would recommend choosing a camp where the majority of the camp’s staff is fully vaccinated, if that information is available.
Can my unvaccinated child visit a public pool or beach?
Yes. If the children can keep an adequate distance from people whose vaccination status is unknown, I think it is just fine for them to go swimming in a public space. We know that COVID-19 is not transmitted by water. In cases where the children may need to go indoors – such as to use the restroom or a changing area – or be in closer proximity to others, they ought to wear masks. Don’t forget your sunblock!
Can my unvaccinated child attend an outdoor sporting event or concert?
Yes. If the event is outdoor and the children wear masks. However, because seating in these scenarios is generally fixed and there’s not much opportunity for distancing among households, I would exercise more caution if anyone in the household is at high-risk for COVID-19 complications.
Can my unvaccinated child visit a theme park or fair?
Yes. I would recommend though that unvaccinated children wear masks and families take care to keep their distance as much as possible. I would also use more caution, however, if anyone else in the household is at high-risk for COVID-19 complications.
Can my unvaccinated child visit an outdoor waterpark?
Yes. Just as with a swimming pool, there is no risk of contracting COVID-19 through water. Children should maintain physical distancing while in line for slides though, and should wear their masks any time they venture indoors.
Can my child participate in group sports?
Yes – but be mindful of the type of sport and location. If the sport is outdoor and low contact – like baseball, running or swimming – parents can feel comfortable allowing their child to participate without a mask.
Can my unvaccinated child go to a playground, farmers market or hiking?
Yes. In outdoor locations with space to move freely, parents may feel comfortable allowing their children to visit and not wear masks in these locations. Keep masks on hand though should the location become more crowded.
Can my unvaccinated child go to a movie theater?
I would hold off on taking children to the movie theater until they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless you know that distancing can be maintained. Families should wear their masks.
Can my unvaccinated child play a game of mini golf?
Yes. This outdoor game where families can very easily socially distance from others is a perfect summertime activity for unvaccinated children. Bring along masks in case the ability to keep distanced becomes difficult or children need to go inside.
Can my unvaccinated child play at an indoor playground or trampoline park?
I would recommend waiting. Because these present situations of high activity and limited ventilation – and thus more opportunity for droplets to spread – I would wait to take children to these types of venues until they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Can my unvaccinated child travel by airplane?
Yes. Research has shown that COVID-19 transmission is minimal in aircraft when masking is enforced. To that end, so long as passengers ages 2 years and older are wearing masks, parents can feel comfortable traveling by airplane with small, unvaccinated children. However, risks increase on longer flights where full meals are served, requiring removal of masks for longer periods of time.
Can my unvaccinated child attend a sleepover or playdate?
Yes. Small indoor playdates or sleepovers are fine with another household if eligible members are vaccinated against COVID-19 and neither household includes people at high risk of COVID-19 complications. I would, however, avoid slumber parties, playdates or indoor birthday parties where several households are invited.
Can my unvaccinated child visit their grandparents?
Yes. If Grandma and Grandpa are fully vaccinated, parents can feel comfortable allowing their unvaccinated, healthy children to visit without wearing masks.
Can my unvaccinated child get a bite to eat or scoop of ice cream with friends?
Yes, if the group is small and they can eat outside while distanced from other parties. I would recommend the children keep their masks on until their orders arrive, and they ought to wear their masks if they need to go indoors, say for extra sprinkles or to use the restroom.
Can my unvaccinated child participate in a water balloon toss?
Yes. We now know that COVID-19 is seldom transmitted through surface contact. Children can enjoy the fun, but ought to wash their hands afterward, which is advisable after any activity outside the home, as well as after using the restroom, and before and after eating.
Everything parents need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens from the pediatric experts at CHOC