Vaccinated with unvaccinated child
June 5, 2021 1:27 PM   Subscribe

My preschool-aged child is the only person in our extended family who has not yet received a vaccination. I am having trouble understanding the level of risk for things I might do with him.

I have been following the news, following some blogs which track this etc. and I still don't understand it. Can I go to a store by myself, and then be around him later? Can I take him on a public bus? Can I socialize by myself with my vaccinated parents and then be around him later? Can he socialize with my vaccinated parents and should he wear a mask when he does? Can I have a vaccinated friend with a non-vaccinated same-aged child over to my home indoors?

I understand that the risk for kids his age is thankfully fairly low, and that we are protecting him through the herd immunity of our own vaccination as the adults in his life. I understand too that outside is safer, and we will do so when we can. But, realistically. Can he have a birthday party this year with vaccinated family members? Can I take him to a shopping mall? What will life look like, going forward, for vaccinated me and my too-young-to-be-vaccinated kid?
posted by ficbot to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This article may help - lists out risks of various activities.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:45 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]

Also so much depends on your local area case rates.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:45 PM on June 5

My understanding is that my preschool aged child is at the same or less risk as my vaccinated senior parents. I proceed more or less as pre-pandemic with a slightly elevated aversion to crowded places or unnecessary errands and we still wear masks at playgrounds and inside shops and stores. I suspect we will gradually shed the masks outdoors but are mostly following our relatively cautious social environment. Will probably have a slightly higher threshold for keeping a child home when they have a regular cold.

I also find it difficult to find straightforward sources as most are related to childcare but the age/vaccine comparison is what Emily Oster cited on an interview.
posted by vunder at 1:51 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]

I think one starting point is that any activity where you know everyone else is vaccinated is safe. Not perfectly safe, there are breakthrough cases, but safe enough that worrying about more than you worry about putting him in a car to drive a couple of miles would be disproportionate. Vaccinated people mostly aren’t spreading it, and asymptomatic vaccinated people really aren’t spreading it (technically it could happen, but super, super unlikely.)

The hard question is activities where you don’t know everyone else’s vaccination status. And at that point, it depends on what the rates of infection are locally; is everyone wearing a mask; that kind of thing.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:45 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]

The framework we’re trying with Little eirias is if we’re asking her to assume any degree of risk at all, there’d better be something in it for her. So even though the risk of our grownup vaccinated friends coming in the house when she’s here is probably pretty small, it’s not zero and there’s really no benefit at all to her, so that has to wait. But we went to see her vaccinated grandparents and we all unmasked and hugged and stuff — because that small risk seems worth it from her perspective, not just ours. More distant relatives, we’re still keeping our distance. We worry less about what we do when Little e isn’t around. We’ve started having contractors in the house if we need to while she’s out, and I don’t budget the number of stores we go into in a weekend like I used to (we still mask though).

This is where we’re starting. I don’t claim it’s perfect, it’s just what feels comfortable today, where I am. Realistically, we could probably be less conservative than this in my town and still be all right, based on local rates.
posted by eirias at 5:27 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]

This is easy for me to say bc little ficbot is not my child. I raised 3 children with an eye towards odds and risk v reward. I also let them do things like walk to the store by themselves when they were 10-12 and do things in the woods behind our house without supervision so take my advice in that context.

I would pretty much go back to normal with the little one. A birthday party where everyone but they are vaccinated? Absolutely. The two things I would still do is not take them into small crowded spaces like a subway or crowded store and, to the extent they tolerate this, I would have them wear a mask when they are out in enclosed spaces.

The odds of them catching covid is really low (but not zero) and the odds of them getting a bad case is also very low.
posted by AugustWest at 8:01 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]

Here's my take on this. I'm on the more cautious end.

Can I go to a store by myself, and then be around him later?

Yes. The vaccine is like 80-90 percent effective, so you're acting as a firebreak. I'd wear a mask and socially distance if possible and choose the more ventilated and less crowded stores. If I couldn't socially distance, I'd confirm they were vaccinated (e g., going to the dentist, you can't stay distant from the dentist). I'm not sure I'd spend an hour in a poorly ventilated space with potentially unvaccinated people (I really want to go to yoga class, but I'm not), but I think some parents would.

Can I take him on a public bus?

No. This is an enclosed space where unvaccinated people are breathing, so he could catch it directly from them.

Can I socialize by myself with my vaccinated parents and then be around him later?

Yes. They're firebreak #1, and even if they got it, you're firebreak #2.

Can he socialize with my vaccinated parents and should he wear a mask when he does?

I tend to think he can and that he doesn't need to. If they're doing lots of high risk things, then maybe consider masks or being outside.

Can I have a vaccinated friend with a non-vaccinated same-aged child over to my home indoors?

Is the kid going to stores, daycare, etc.? I wouldn't - I'd keep it outside and have the kids mask up. But if the kid is staying home, then sure.

This is just my idiosyncratic approach. I don't trust Emily Oster and think she got critiqued for that comparison mentioned above.

Also, I'd keep track of if the Delta variant is circulating where you are, because it's got higher risks to kids and vaccines are a bit less effective.
posted by slidell at 7:44 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]

This is entirely based on your risk tolerance.

I have two kids too young to vaccinate. They are freely around unmasked vaccinated adults, indoors. They are occasionally around other kids their age (who therefore are unvaccinated), indoors and unmasked, regularly around other kids outdoors (masked and unmasked). The indoor interactions are with kids of people who are fully vaccinated. Our area has pretty low COVID rates, the risk of COVID to young children is quite low even if they get sick, so I am not all that worried about them even in the pretty rare chance that they do get it. I think having some degree of normal interactions with other kids is more important than protecting them from small risks of COVID, and everyone they interact with who is at higher risk has been fully vaccinated at this point, so I am not worried about my kids spreading COVID to at-risk people themselves.

As for public transit, I'd take them. My oldest will wear a mask. My youngest will... sometimes wear a mask. Again, low local rate of infection at the moment, low chance of coming in contact with it, low risk of serious complications if they do get sick, no significant at-risk people that they interact with closely to worry about. I don't know if I'd take them to the mall, but only because they have no desire to go and it's easier to not bother.
posted by ch1x0r at 2:52 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]

Navigating kid related activities came into my inbox today; it is some guidance by epidemiologists about just such a question.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 4:38 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

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