As horrible as the last year has been for everyone, it has been especially hard on children. Limited social interaction and online schooling all mixed with the widespread anxiety created by the pandemic have left a lot of kids feeling burnt out and lonely. Fortunately, we are starting to see real progress since the release of several vaccines. In response, the Centers for Disease Control has released guidance for how children can attend summer camps safely thanks to the expansion of vaccine eligibility and Covid-19 same day testing. So let’s break things down and see if summer camps are safe during COVID.
The guidelines established for children’s summer camps are based largely on vaccine eligibility. As a result, you will see a substantial difference in guidelines for children under twelve in comparison to guidelines for teen summer camps. In this short guide, we will endeavor to demystify those differences to make it easy to understand what you should be doing to ensure your child and your family is safe.
As of May 10th, 2021, the CDC and FDA have expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to include children ages twelve and up. Thanks to that expansion, summer camps for children included in that group are allowed to open. And without social distancing or masking requirements as long as everyone present is fully vaccinated.
The Pfizer vaccine is a two-shot vaccination that uses mRNA technology to protect the recipient against the Covid-19 virus.
Unlike many other vaccines, mRNA vaccinations do not have to use a dead or weakened version of the virus to initiate the immune response required to create antibodies. Instead, this vaccine teaches your body how to make a “spike protein.” This is similar to that found on the exterior of the Covid-19 virus. Your body recognizes that little protein as an invader, and learns to attack it more quickly.
To maximize your protection against the virus, the Pfizer vaccine is delivered in two doses. Both are injected into the muscle of the upper arm, and you can have the vaccine administered simply by making an appointment at your local pharmacy. Your pharmacy will automatically schedule your second appointment three to four weeks later, so make sure you can attend both.
At your appointments, you can expect a slight pinch from the injection. You will then receive instructions to wait fifteen minutes. Allergic reactions are rare but do happen, so do not ignore this safety protocol. Does your child have a history of severe allergic reactions. Then you should speak to their pediatrician prior to scheduling their vaccine appointments.
Many people have no side effects resulting from either shot, and children are even less likely to experience them. However, it pays to stay prepared just in case. After their first shot, they will likely experience some tenderness in their upper arm. After the second shot, they may experience flu-like symptoms. Generally these last less than a day, but they can last several days in some cases. Fatigue, body aches, and headaches are some of the most common side effects.
You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot. If you want your child to attend a summer camp, they should be getting their first dose at least six weeks prior to the start of the camp.
None of the Covid-19 vaccines have extended to children under twelve yet. So their summer camps will require more structure. The same groups that perform Covid-19 testing for schools are expected to extend their services to summer camps to offer regular assurances of safety. In addition, the CDC recommends keeping children in small cohorts that do not interact. This aims to ensure any positive cases remain isolated.
As a result of the continued concern for children, you can expect your child’s summer camp to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing both inside and outside. With any luck, we will have a vaccine that is safe for young children very soon. But in the meantime, this remains the safest way to give your child the summer they crave.