Families can lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission during get-togethers, even with kids too young to get the vaccine yet. They key is taking some extra precautions.
We are all ready for a return to our normal, including familiar family traditions like backyard barbeques and birthday parties. Anyone age 5 and older can now receive COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, making it safe for fully vaccinated people to gather. While vaccines are not yet authorized for younger children, extra safety steps can help keep them safe.
Some tips to keep in mind if hosting a gathering for your child:
Plan small outdoor gatherings
Keep gatherings small and choose outdoor venues whenever possible. (Hint: think picnic!) Being outside can lower the risk of transmitting the virus through the air, which is the main way it spreads. If there is any need to go inside, open windows to increase air circulation. Choose a space large enough that children can keep a safe physical distance of at least 3 feet from each other.
Be creative & flexible
Involve your child to identify what is most important to them during the celebration. This can help narrow down the party itinerary and limit risk. Then, tweak the activities with safety in mind. For example:
Consider individual cupcakes, with candles just on the birthday child's, rather than a single, large cake.
Tip: When it's time to sing "Happy Birthday," blow out candles, and eat—activities that can spread more germs in the air—try to allow some extra room. If you do have a large cake, skip the candles and have a single person slice it and hand out pieces.
Offer single-serving beverages rather than pouring from shared containers.
water bottles decorated with guests' names can be a great take-home party favor.
Choose games and activities that don't involve close physical contact.
Tip: Individual crafts and classic games like charades, Simon Says, Freeze Frame, and Spud (using a soft foam ball) can be good choices. Brainstorm together for other ideas, such as a nature scavenger hunt or a "drive-in" movie, where each child gets a box they can decorate and "park" a safe distance apart.
Get vaccinated if you are eligible
COVID-19 vaccination is our best hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19
vaccines are highly effective against serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection. Vaccines are especially important now with rising cases caused by variants of the virus, which appear to spread more easily. Since younger children are not yet eligible for the vaccine, they are reliant upon adults following public health protocols and getting vaccinated to stay protected as possible.
Continue the basics
Especially until more people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, make sure everyone continues basic safety steps. This includes frequent hand washing, physical distancing and wearing face masks, especially in crowded indoor or outdoor spaces. Also, remind parents their child should stay home if they are not feeling well, have had a fever within the past couple days, or had close contact within the past two weeks with someone who has COVID-19.
Children and teens have had an especially tough time dealing with all the changes needed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We can help children ease back into dearly missed events like birthday parties and other landmark celebrations such as graduation picnics. Just remember to prioritize safety, head outside whenever possible, be creative and flexible when needed, and get your COVID-19 vaccines when you can.