ROCKFORD (WREX) — Right now, the vaccine is not available to kids under the age of 16, creating confusion for parents about how to safely spend time with family.
"Currently, SwedishAmerican is offering vaccinations to kids 16 and older," Dr. William Renk, a General Pediatrician at SwedishAmerican, exlains.
That's left many parents wondering what they should, and shouldn't, do to protect their kids, and others.
"Mask and social distance and have a core group of friends," Dr. Renk says. "You know, a play group where there's 10 kids that kind of hangout together and you don't stray from that."
Dr. Renk and Winnebago County's Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell say low-risk activities for families are things like going to the park and playing sports. But they even say it's okay to go visit immunized grandparents.
"If your grandparent has high blood pressure, is on multiple medicines, or sickly, I'd still wear a mask," Dr. Renk adds.
Martell says if you're planning to visit grandparents, you should try to limit exposure as much as you can beforehand. She adds you should try to visit outdoors as kids are more likely to be asymptomatic.
"30 to 50 percent of kids can have the disease and have absolutely no symptoms," Dr. Renk explains.
Right now, Martell says only 20 percent of the population is vaccinated, but Dr. Renk says we'll reach herd immunity when we hit 70 percent. However, to get there, kids will need to get the shot too, and he says that could still be a year away.
"There are vaccines that are being studied in that younger population, so it's a wait and see approach for 12 and under," Dr. Renk explains.
So until a vaccine is approved for kids, parents will need keep their circle small and stay on their guard.
Dr. Renk says the new variants are more transmissible in children, and even if your child normally has allergies around this time of the year, you should have them tested for COVID-19 just to be sure.