How to Keep Young Children Safe from Omicron
Waves of COVID-19 continue to batter the country leaving parents with small children wondering how best to keep their kids safe.
The coronavirus continues to mutate; the current dominant variant is called Omicron. Although it produces milder illness in many cases, it is still straining hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Additionally, Omicron is affecting children more than previous variants.
According to COVID-NET, the hospitalization rate for the week ending on Jan 22 for children aged 0-4 who are still not eligible for the vaccine was 7.1 per 100,000. While the rate for children aged 5-17 was 2.2 per 100,000. Even though these numbers are higher than those seen in past months, the good news is that data shows the hospitalization rate going down.
However, new variants continue to appear; this week, scientists said they were studying a new sub-variant of Omicron detected in various states known as BA. 2.
We still don’t know much about BA. 2, including whether it causes more severe symptoms and spreads faster than other variants or which population is most at risk. Therefore, as parents, we must continue to protect our children.
The increase in pediatric Omicron illnesses and hospitalizations is naturally a source of anxiety if you are a parent. Still, there are ways to help reduce your child’s risk of infection. Here are a few ways you can help keep your children safe from Omicron.
If you have children under the age of 5, one way to help keep them safe is to make sure that all adults and children age five and up in the family are fully vaccinated.
Check Your Children’s Risk Factors
Your family is unique, and therefore the risk factors for your children can be different. However, here are some considerations for you to take into account:
- Are any of your children immunocompromised, or do they have any illnesses that could increase their risk for severe COVID-19 disease?
- Are your children under the age of five and therefore not eligible for the vaccine?
- Are your kids attending in-person classes at school, or do they go to daycare?
- Keep in mind that the more contact your children have with people outside of your family, the greater their chances of catching a virus, be it the flu or the coronavirus
Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.
Speak to Your Children
It’s not always easy to explain to small children what is happening, especially when safety guidelines are changing all the time.
But children are fast learners, and they have an enormous capacity to adapt, so don’t underestimate them.
There are several children’s books that can help you approach the subject and make it easier for your kids to understand what is going on.
You can download some of these books for free from The American Psychological Association (APA) website. To check them out, click here.
Continue to Follow All Safety Measures
Teach your children the importance of washing their hands and why they should never touch their faces or eat with dirty hands.
It’s also a good idea to teach them not to share eating utensils or drink out of other children’s glasses. This habit can keep them safe from many illnesses, not just COVID-19.
Buy them size-appropriate masks to wear when safe social distancing is not possible.
Want to Know More About the Omicron Variant?
Altus Emergency Centers will continue to be here for the community helping to save lives. However, we urge you to please do what is in your power to keep your family safe. Remember, prevention is always the best option.