Keeping kids safe until they can be vaccinated

Keeping kids safe until they can be vaccinated
The CDC says summer camps can happen this year, but mask-wearing and social distancing should be practiced. (Source: CNN)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As COVID restrictions begin to ease across the country, many are getting back to a more normal way of life. But when will it be safe to take the kids to normal activities again? It’s all about considering the risk factors, and that starts with the big question of who will they be around.

In the state of Georgia, about 12-percent of 16 to 19-year-olds are vaccinated. In Chatham County, that number is similar, around 11-percent of 16 to 19-year-olds received the vaccine, and about 21-percent of 20 to 24-year-olds are vaccinated.

Since kids under the age of 16 cannot get the vaccine yet, the risk is much lower when they are around other vaccinated adults and teens.

“One of the most protective things we can do is what we call cocooning, so we vaccinate the people around the individual who can’t, who might be at risk of infection, so think about who is around that child most. It is usually going to be that family that supports them,” said Dr. Steven Thacker, Associate Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Health.

Being around vaccinated people is the key but Dr. Thacker also adds that keeping distance and wearing masks is important, especially for kids right now.

Dr. Thacker says he thinks vaccinations could open up to children by late summer.

While are just weeks away from ending the school year, many parents are making plans for summer camp.

Many summer camps across the nation did not take place last year, but at the Jewish Educational Alliance in Savannah, they had 11 weeks of summer camp last year, which is a big help in preparing for another camp during COVID. The biggest difference is that group sizes are smaller, almost cut in half from a typical year. Campers and staff will have temperature checks, be required to wear masks, and sanitize rooms between rotations of groups.

Even with some changes, they already have about 180 kids signed up, which is an increase from what they had last summer.

“The kids just want to be social. I think they need to get out and do things that kids love to do, they’ve been cooped up. They’ve either been virtual for five days or been going back part-time, and they just want to be around their friends again and have fun,” said DJ Horton, Jewish Educational Alliance.

The JEA offers camps to kids from kindergarten through tenth grade. While none of the kids can be vaccinated at this point, the staff are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. They have a pre-camp set to start at the end of this month and then on June 7, camp will officially get underway.

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