There is a lot of talk about a variant of COVID-19 in the news, and it’s called the delta variant. The best way to protect yourself and your family from this more contagious variant of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.
But getting vaccinated is not an option for the roughly 48 million children under the age of 12 in the country. That leaves a lot of uncertainty, especially for parents and caregivers considering summer trips and the fall school season.
Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, talked with WCCO about how families can navigate the potential risk of the delta variant.
Does Minnesota need to worry about the delta variant?
Unvaccinated people – including children – are more vulnerable to the delta variant of COVID-19 because it is the most transmissible form of the virus we’ve seen so far.
Because the delta variant is so much more contagious, there is no room for error. For example, if an unvaccinated person is infected and around other unvaccinated people, there is a higher likelihood that those unvaccinated people are going to get COVID-19 – and that includes children.
Are kids at a higher risk of severe symptoms from the delta variant?
According to current research, the delta variant does not appear to cause more serious diseases in kids. While children and teens have a lower risk than adults of severe illness from COVID-19, they can still get sick or need to be hospitalized. Other concerns experts have are:
- Kids are at risk of a serious complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children.
- Kids spreading the virus to unvaccinated adults and other kids.
How can parents protect kids from the delta variant?
Here are different ways you as a parent can protect your child from the delta variant of COVID-19:
- Although kids under the age of 12 can’t get vaccinated yet, almost everyone else can get the shot. So, we highly recommend the people in your family who can get vaccinated do so.
- For adults who’ve been on the fence about getting the vaccine, let the delta variant be your reason to call your doctor and roll up your sleeves.
- For parents of kids 12 and older who haven’t yet been vaccinated, call your pediatrician and sign them up for the vaccine before school starts.
- Children’s Minnesota offers the COVID vaccine at all nine of its primary care clinics. And, don’t wait, the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses.
- Experts ask unvaccinated people to behave as if there is high risk to them because the pandemic is not over, especially for those who are unvaccinated.
Where should kids wear masks until they can get vaccinated?
Many parents are wondering: where do my kids under the age of 12 have to wear a mask? If your kids are outside, it’s not necessary to wear their masks. However, when they are indoors, it really depends. If they’re inside and everyone inside is vaccinated, then it may be OK for them to go without a mask. But, if there are unvaccinated people, kids should mask up.