Doctor's Advice on How to Plan a Safe Summer During Pandemic

Doctors say vaccinations will make a huge difference in what those answers will be

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Parents are in midst of planning a big summer for their kids.

With the help of the COVID-19 vaccines, the hope is to re-create summer memories they had before the virus, while also preparing them for life beyond the pandemic.

NBC 5 spoke to a local doctor for insight on how parents can find some normalcy again at playgrounds, summer camps and family trips while also staying safe.

Doctors say vaccinations will make a huge difference in what those answers will be.

If your child is older than 12, doctors recommend getting them vaccinated before you make any big plans this summer. For kids under 12 who don't have access to the vaccine yet, you'll need to take the same precautions you always have throughout the pandemic.

For summer camps, the CDC strongly recommends families send vaccinated children. If they're not, doctors say you'll need to check the camp's rules to see if their protocols are strict enough to keep your family safe.

"Experience from last year shows that the camps that implemented these preventative strategies had no increased transmission for COVID within the camp,” said Dr. Carla Garcia Carreno, an infectious disease specialist for Children's Medical Center Plano. “These prevention strategies include the use of masks, social distancing, practicing hygiene, hand washing and cleaning the surfaces – cohorting the groups into pods so they don't have mixing and mingling of the children."

When it comes to playdates, Carreno said it’s important to check to see who in that child's household is vaccinated. If the children are vaccinated, it’s safe to play indoors without masks.

She recommends keeping playtime outdoors for now until younger children get the vaccine. That means a lot of supervision, social distancing, separate snacks and hand washing.

And when it comes to family trips, Carreno said to use your best judgment and avoid large crowds if possible.

"I think every family should decide based on their risk level they're willing to take. Because there's not an activity with zero risk at this point, especially travel,” she said. “Check community spread, who's vaccinated, and who with you is at risk. Regardless of being fully vaccinated, the CDC says you should still wear a mask in crowded places or while taking public transportation.”

Bottom line, remember the dangers.

Experts say most children are not at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 but that doesn't mean the risk isn't still there – or the potential to spread it.

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