Bay Area parents of unvaccinated children wonder how to navigate reopened Calif.

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Parents of unvaccinated kids try to navigate reopened CA
Bay Area families with young children are trying to navigate a reopened state while keeping kids, who are too young to be vaccinated, safe.

Bay Area families with young children are trying to navigate a reopened state while keeping kids, who are too young to be vaccinated, safe. So while many Californians have spent the past week ditching their mask and 6 feet of distance, many families of young children have been left wondering what to do....

"It's been challenging, we've been avoiding going to indoor places like restaurants and museums and those sort of things," said San Francisco father, Nik Mungel.

Mungel and his wife, Sneha Singh, are both vaccinated. But at 22 months, their son is not eligible for a vaccine or even old enough to wear a mask, so his parents do what they can. "I'm still trying to keep my mask on as much as possible around younger kids, especially playgrounds and stuff," said Singh.

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Yu Goji's son is four and old enough to mask up, but still many months away from a potential COVID vaccine, which right now is only authorized for people 12 and up. So while the state has reopened, his family is still restricting their activities. "Even if we travel, we'll travel somewhere like camping or somewhere outside, where we can obviously keep the distance from other people, but not like a crowded amusement park."

"It's super hard and confusing right now for parents like us, who have kids who are not vaccinated," said Dr. Anne Liu, a Stanford infectious disease physician. She's also mom to a nine-year-old son.

"We're definitely relaxed more in what we can do outdoors, the kids are playing sports outdoors and we're feeling a little bit more relaxed about how much they have to mask outdoors, although under some circumstances, I still want them to. But indoors, I still am feeling very cautious and I am preferring that if they're around other people who are unvaccinated, kids or adults, that they still wear masks."

UCSF epidemiologist and pediatrician, Dr. George Rutherford, says given the alpha and delta variants, parents of unvaccinated children should still be cautious. "If they do come into contact with the virus, they're more likely to get infected than they have been in the past, just because the variants are more infectious."

EXPLAINER: What fully vaccinated people can, cannot do according to CDC's new mask guidelines

But he points out, there is a solution. "Remember that kids get infected by adults and that's been a pattern as well, so the way to protect children is to get adults vaccinated."

Because California vaccination rates are high, Dr. Rutherford suggests that for summer vacation plans, families with unvaccinated kids travel within the state in order to limit potential exposure to variants.

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