As MI reopens, how do parents of unvaccinated kids move forward?

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The state of Michigan is on track to reopen.

On June 1, outdoor gatherings will no longer have capacity limits. Last week, the state announced that masks were no longer required by anyone outdoors

As restrictions begin to loosen up, Dr. Megan Sikkema, a pediatric hospitalist at Bronson Methodist Hospital, says parents with unvaccinated children should proceed with caution when it comes to attending outdoor gatherings. 

“We know masks are very effective in preventing spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19,” Sikkema said. “If families are choosing to go to those venues that are more crowded, certainly kids that aren’t vaccinated should be wearing masks.”

Sikkema says fully vaccinated parents with unvaccinated kids should err on the side of caution when entering an indoor building, such as a store, where fully vaccinated individuals aren’t required to wear a mask. 

“It’d be a good idea for you to show them that you’re wearing a mask too as a protective measure,” Sikkema said. “Again, I think modeling the ideal behavior is a great thing to do as a parent for right now, until we can vaccinate our children.”

Currently kids as young as 12-years-old are eligible to receive a Pfizer vaccine. 

“I’m much more optimistic that moving into late summer/fall we could be really close to getting those younger kids vaccinated,” Sikkema said. “I know the studies are in progress right now. I’m excited and optimistic of what that could look like in the next months.”

Kids who contract COVID-19 can also end up getting MIS-C, an inflammatory condition that can be deadly.

 More than a handful of children have been hospitalized with the condition at Bronson Children’s Hospital with the condition. 

“There’s also an important inflammatory condition called MIS-C that you can get after getting COVID,” Sikkema said. “Much more common in children and sometimes young adults, but usually children and that can be life threatening. It oftentimes — almost all the time — ends up with children being in the hospital for a long period of time and having significant medical interventions.”

As a return to normalcy edges closer, Sikkema says parents should be extra careful before signing their kids up for traditional activities, such as summer camps. 

“I think it’s worth families time to investigate what their mask policies are going to be, again, if it’s a child that is unable to get vaccinated,” Sikkema said. “I don’t think it’s safe for them to be in groups of other children who are not wearing masks.” 

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