With the holidays coming up, experts are urging parents to start vaccinating their kids ASAP
For families across the country, this holiday season might be the first one in a couple of years where people actually get together to celebrate in person, thanks to the widespread rollout of the COVID vaccine. Adults have been getting immunized for nearly a year, but kids between the ages of 5 and 11 only started getting vaccinated earlier this month. If you’re still pondering whether to book an appointment for your child (or trying to find an available slot), one expert is touting the benefits of even just securing that first dose before holiday festivities really get into full swing.
Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, took to Twitter with some tips for parents ahead of Thanksgiving next week. His main advice? Start the immunization process as soon as you possibly can. “Even a single dose for your kid 10 days prior is an incredible safeguard,” he said.
While kids 12 and up became eligible to get vaccinated starting in May, 5 to 11 year olds only became eligible at the beginning of November. Currently, the only COVID vaccine authorized for that age group is the Pfizer shot. Just like adults, kids need two doses ideally spaced three weeks apart. Any child who gets their first dose in the next week or two could be finished with the series by Christmas — but keep in mind that doctors don’t consider someone fully vaccinated until two weeks after the second dose.
And vaccinated or not, kids and adults alike can still spread the COVID, and break through infections do happen. With that in mind, Mina had more advice ahead of any family gatherings this year. “Rapid test the morning of,” he said. “Don’t join if Pos. It will massively reduce risk – much more than intermittent masking.”
He also advised families to consider moving any celebrations outside if weather permits, or at the very least keep the windows open for proper ventilation. They’re relatively simple precautions that could help make it a healthier, happier holiday season for everyone — but the most important one of all is likely getting that first dose of the vaccine. The shots should offer strong protection for kids — Pfizer said they were more than 90% effective at preventing the virus — which is the ultimate holiday gift for parents who have spent a year and half waiting and worrying for the pandemic to end.