As soon as the calendar turns October 1, the first thing on every kid’s mind is Halloween. Last year was far from a typical Halloween as people adjusted to pandemic etiquette by wearing masks and practicing social distancing. This year the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed hope that kids will be able to trick-or-treat as long as it’s among small groups and outdoors while continuing to avoid crowds. Dr. Anthony Fauci also weighed in recommending to get outside and enjoy Halloween, particularly if you’re vaccinated.
AAP-CA3 member and spokesperson, Jaime Friedman, M.D., FAAP, weighs in on how to have a safe Halloween this year.
Given what the CDC director expressed about trick-or-treating, do you think we can expect to be able to trick-or-treat this year?
I think children will absolutely be able to trick-or-treat this year. It’s an outdoor activity in which distancing and mask wearing for unvaccinated kids is easy.
If so, how can we ensure we are keeping our kids safe while trick-or-treating?
Unvaccinated kids should remain outdoors with their immediate family. I recommend they wear masks (if not part of their costume) when approaching homes to collect candy and other treats. Keep them from eating candy along the way and make sure they wash their hands when they get home before digging in. It’s also a good idea to avoid large gatherings or indoor parties, especially when other unvaccinated children or adults are present.
What about pumpkin patches and other fall festivities?
Overall, outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities. However, outdoor activities can become a source of spread when there are large crowds, making distancing difficult, and people are unmasked. I would recommend that any unvaccinated child going to a pumpkin patch or other public event continue to wear a mask. Don’t forget to wash their hands frequently as they are likely to be touching a lot of surfaces. We can’t forget that it’s also cold and flu season and other germs are out there.
What are some fun and safe activities you recommend?
Staying home for Halloween fun and games with immediate family members is the best way to stay safe. Try pumpkin decorating, scary movie night or making Halloween treats. Outdoor activities like trick-or-treating or a neighborhood costume parade are safest if there is distancing or mask wearing. Children who are already vaccinated should be allowed to celebrate with other vaccinated children, if everyone is symptom free.
Anything additional to contribute on this topic?
It’s unfortunate that this year we are still talking about COVID safety during the best holiday (in my opinion) of the year. We’ve had vaccines for nine months, approved for kids 12+ for four months and yet we are in one of the worst surges of the pandemic. I worry that adults who are vaccinated will treat this Halloween as a pre-pandemic holiday, potentially putting children too young to be vaccinated at risk. Parents still need to consider the safety of their young children when planning their activities. Children too young to be vaccinated depend on others to be vaccinated and continue safe practices to protect them. So, to minimize your child’s exposure, please get vaccinated now.