How To Protect Your Child From The Delta Variant

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Kids around the country are wrapping up summer, leaving summer camps or their cousins’ house to get back to school, creating a germ-spreading predicament for parents everywhere. 

The stakes this year are raised, though, as the COVID-19 Delta variant surges, causing an influx of new cases and hospitalizations. 

Since children under the age of 12 are not eligible for the vaccine yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some tips to keep little ones safe, especially as they get back to in-person learning and fall sports schedules.

Children should wear masks in schools and other crowded places, the CDC says. Any other family member who comes into contact with the child and is over the age of 12 and able to get vaccinated should. 

NPR consulted healthcare professionals who are also parents about their strategies for keeping their kids and families protected as best as possible. 

What to Do with a Kid Who Has the Sniffles

If a child wakes up with the sniffles, one health expert recommends keeping the child at home and consulting a doctor about the child’s symptoms.

Based on that conversation and if the kid had recently been potentially exposed to COVID-19 –– on a plane, at school, in a crowded area –– a decision to test the child for COVID-19 can be made.

Set Testing Procedures

Before a child gets the sniffles, some healthcare pros suggest asking your pediatrician's office about their ability to perform a PCR-test or rapid COVID-19 testing. 

“Our pediatrician’s office, like many pediatrics clinics, has walk-in hours for children who are sick,” Dr. Cassandra Pierre, a medical director of public health programs at Boston Medical Center and mother, told NPR. “Those hours are in the morning, which means my child could get tested and, hopefully, get the results in the same day.” 

Until the results come back, the child should stay home. There are over-the-counter test kits that may be useful to keep around the house just in case.

You Can Avoid Spreading a Cold, Too

Though your child’s symptoms might turn out to be only a cold, health experts say that shouldn’t be spread either. Keeping them away from other kids can help protect other households. 

The pandemic unleashed a childcare crisis in the US, a fact that Pierre says has reiterated that “we really rely on the decisions that other people make.” 

“I want to make sure that I’m making good decisions to prevent other children and parents potentially from getting sick,” Pierre told the outlet. 

If the child has to go back to school or daycare with mild cold symptoms, they should be wearing a mask.

What to do If Your Child Tests Positive for COVID-19

Parents should try not to panic, Pierre says. Keep a close eye on their symptoms, check in with the child’s doctor, especially if the child has any underlying health conditions.

Plan ahead, if you can, to figure out child care and quarantine arrangements in the event your child tests positive for COVID-19. Find fully vaccinated family members to split care with and get back up plans in order. 

Additionally, households should have multiple layers or defense, starting with vaccines. If space is limited, the entire household should be masked up to avoid transmission.

Get fresh air into the home as much as possible to get air circulating. Surfaces should also be disinfected regularly to avoid picking up the virus from something and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 

For more information about COVID-19, the vaccines, and Delta variant, click here.

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