The Vaccinated Parent’s Guide to Life With Unvaccinated Kids


While traveling, everyone (except children under 2) should still wear masks in public, stay six feet from others when possible, wash hands or use hand sanitizer, and avoid crowds. If your kids can tolerate it, Dr. Rivers suggested, have them double mask during plane rides with a surgical mask on the bottom and a cloth mask on top.

If you’re fully vaccinated, the C.D.C. has said that you can resume activities like eating indoors at restaurants or going to the gym; and it is OK for you to go and enjoy these activities if you have unvaccinated children at home, Dr. Jones said. But keep in mind that these are still some of the highest risk settings, and while it’s highly unlikely that a vaccinated parent would bring the virus home, it’s still best to avoid these venues when they’re crowded and wear masks and physically distance when possible.

It’s also best not to bring your unvaccinated children along when doing these kinds of activities, experts said, since they might get exposed to, and spread, Covid-19 within the community. At restaurants, for instance, “you can’t eat with a mask on, and the restaurants will be full of other people who are of unknown vaccine status,” Dr. Jones said. (It’s far better to eat outdoors if possible.)

It can be hard for parents to wrap their heads around the fact that Covid-19 — which can cause serious and sometimes deadly complications in adults — is typically mild for kids and teens, causing symptoms that are often no worse than those of a cold, if they have any symptoms at all. “Kids do experience mild or even asymptomatic illness, on average,” Dr. Rivers said.

Still, some kids may be at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19 than others. These include children and teens with underlying medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, congenital heart disease, a suppressed immune system, or certain genetic, neurologic or metabolic conditions like Down syndrome. Most high-risk kids still do OK when they get Covid-19, but parents may want to talk through the safety of various scenarios with their pediatricians, said Dr. Carmin Powell, a pediatrician at Stanford Medicine.

Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Weigh the pros and cons and make decisions that are a good fit for your family. “If people choose to remain conservative, that’s not wrong. And if people choose to become a little more flexible, that’s not wrong, either,” Dr. Rivers said. “It’s a hard time, but I think it’s good that we’re having these problems, because it means that things are improving.”


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