Parents of Young Kids Weigh Risks During Omicron Surge

It could still be months before kids under 5 get a COVID-19 vaccine, as Pfizer had another setback with its clinical trial in kids 6 months to 5 years old

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As the omicron surge continues, parents of kids under 5, who can’t be vaccinated yet, are still trying to navigate life.

"We pulled her back from some activities for now…when the cases kind of go down we’ll probably start putting her back in gymnastics and her other activities," said Tee Vu, who has a 3-year-old.

Sean Sendell is keeping his 10-month-old and 3-year-old home this week due to the variant.

"We’ve sent them to day care but we don’t have them in this week for these purposes that’s been that," he said.

Dr. Uché Blackstock looked at coronavirus prevention strategies like mask mandates ventilation, testing and rates of vaccination before deciding to sending them to New York City public schools. "This is a decision that no parent should have to make, but here we are having to make this decision," Blackstock says.

Dr. Richard Malley, an infectious diseases doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital, says the omicron variant does appear to "a little less aggressive" than previous variants in children.

Despite that, it’s still not a reason to expose little kids.

"We are still seeing children for whatever reason, they have co-morbidities, they may be immunocompromised or for reasons we don’t understand are unlucky with this virus and that can make them sick."

He advises physical distancing, doing most activities outdoors, and wearing masks when you are indoors.

Families across the country, including our own Maria Sansone's, are dealing with Omicron that is sweeping through their homes. Dr. Scott Hadland of Mass General Hospital has tips on how to parent kids of different ages through the crisis from diagnosis to healing.

It could still be months before kids under 5 get a COVID-19 vaccine, as Pfizer had another setback with its clinical trial in kids 6 months to 5 years old.

Malley is hopeful, though, cases are on a downward trend.

There’s also a COVID pill on the horizon for kids.

In the meantime, families with little ones will continue trying to balance work and trying to stay safe.

"A lot of careful planning. A lot of just thinking about meeting times between myself and my wife," said Sendell.

Malley says the best protection for kids is to have those around them vaccinated.

"You have to pick and choose the activities that carry the lowest risk and confer the greatest amount of enjoyment and educational opportunities," he said.

On Wednesday Gov. Charlie Baker announced a plan aimed at helping early education and day care centers access rapid testing to keep kids and staff safe while also keeping centers running. He said officials considered the difficulty parents are experiencing in how to keep their unvaccinated children protected while also navigating things like the need for child care when developing the program.

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