Summer is here, and that brings a mix of emotions for parents. Let’s be real, this year has been a dumpster fire of stress and anxiety for parents navigating the pandemic. While some may feel relief, others are facing a whole new set of questions about how to keep their kids safe from COVID-19 in settings like camps or during summer travel. When kids have less structured time, some kids may need to make more of their own health and safety choices.
No matter your plans or circumstances, we’ve put together a checklist for you to make it a little bit easier to track all the current recommendations about keeping kids protected from COVID. We hope it can make the difference between COVID spoiled plans and the summertime fun we all need and deserve.
Summer COVID safety checklist
☑️ Stay up-to-date on vaccinations
Now, everyone aged 6 months and older can get COVID-19 vaccinations. This is an especially important layer of protection for young children, who aren’t able to do all the things older people can do to prevent the spread of germs, like keep a mask on, stay away from others, or frankly, not put things in their mouths.
And even though children usually don’t get as sick as adults from COVID, on occasion they do get serious infections. Children can also get long term health problems from the virus, known as “long COVID.”
The COVID-19 vaccines for children have been shown to be very effective in preventing severe illness, long-term symptoms, hospitalization and death. Is it possible that a child could still get COVID after a vaccination? Yes, but if they do, their infection will be milder and less contagious. And they will be well protected against the most serious health problems from COVID.
Children over the age of 5 should get a booster dose if it’s been at least 5 months since their second shot. The protection your child gets from a vaccination (or from having had COVID) fades over time, but a booster dose will keep the protection going strong.
Public Health’s vaccination sites in Eastgate (Bellevue) and Auburn are now taking drop-ins and same-day appointments for babies and children over 6 months. For more information: kingcounty.gov/vaccine.
☑️Outdoors is best: Increase ventilation and open windows when indoors
COVID spreads most easily indoors, so choose outdoor activities and dining when possible. And when your child is indoors, increase the air flow to dilute any potential viruses that are in the air. Open windows and doors. If you can, use an air cleaner with a portable filter, or put a fan in the window to blow out contaminated air and pull fresh air indoors. Learn how you can improve air quality in your home.
☑️Wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces
Right now, it’s still a good idea for kids (and adults) to wear a high-quality (N95, KN95, KF94) and well-fitting face mask in crowded indoor spaces. A high-quality mask can reduce their risk of infection when they are in spaces that don’t have good ventilation. This is especially important for people who are immunocompromised or unvaccinated and people who are not up to date with their vaccinations (including booster doses).
Free N-95s are available from the federal government at some Walgreen’s and CVS pharmacies (check ahead to see if they are in stock).
☑️Follow CDC travel guidance
Catching COVID during travel can ruin a vacation and create more challenges coming home. Testing is no longer required for travelers, but to protect your family from COVID, check COVID-19 Community Levels for your destination before you go and follow local guidelines.
Do not travel if you:
- have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19
- are awaiting COVID-19 test results
- had close contact with a person with COVID-19 and are recommended to quarantine.
If you had close contact with a person with COVID-19 but are NOT recommended to quarantine:
- Get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact. Make sure your test result is negative and you remain without symptoms before traveling.
- If you had confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days, you do NOT need to get tested, but you should still follow all other recommendations (including getting tested if you develop COVID-19 symptoms).
See full guidance for international travel on the CDC website.
☑️Order your at-home tests
Before the flurry of summer gatherings and travel, now is a good time to stock up on at-home tests.
You can request free rapid test kits from:
- Washington State Department of Health – www.sayyescovidhometest.org or 1-800-525-0127
- Federal government – www.covidtests.gov or 1-800-232-0233
If you have insurance, you can request to be reimbursed. Insurance providers will reimburse families for up to eight tests per month.
☑️Keep kids home when sick
Outbreaks of COVID are so disruptive to childcare, camps, and other programs for kids, as any parent of young children knows. All summer day camps, childcare and youth development programs must follow the same Washington Department of Health -19 safety requirements and guidelines as K-12 schools, and that includes keeping kids home when sick.
Overnight camp operators should follow the Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 Guidance for Overnight Group Summer Camps and Similar Activities (wa.gov) which includes guidance around key strategies including testing and masking.
☑️Be kind to yourself. We are all doing our best.
Thank you, parents and caregivers, for doing all that you do to protect your children, other people’s children, and the whole community! 💗
Originally published 7/8/22