Philadelphia, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead, Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, and Acting Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Dr. Cheryl Bettigole visited the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia to outline guidance to keep children and their families safe while children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“As adults and older children continue to get vaccinated, many parents may have questions about what activities are safe for them to do with their children this summer. The Wolf Administration remains committed to helping parents keep their families safe as we reopen and more normal activities return,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “As summer approaches and more and more Pennsylvanians are getting vaccinated, we are all hoping to return to some sense of normalcy. But this pandemic is not through yet, so I urge everybody to follow this guidance and continue working together to prevent further spread of COVID-19 between children and families so we can celebrate the summer safely.”
“Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available, and one of the best tools we have to defeat COVID-19 is the vaccine,” Dr. Johnson said. “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and help to protect those who cannot get the vaccine yet, such as children under the age of 12. We’re urging parents of young children to consider getting vaccinated, as this is a way to keep yourself, your children, friends and family safe while participating in summer activities. We are continuously working to get important vaccine information out to all Pennsylvanians across the state, because good information leads to good decisions. We have the power to stop the spread of this virus by getting vaccinated.”
“We are delighted to welcome Acting Secretary Snead, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Bettigole as reopening progresses and families plan for a summer in which young children cannot yet be vaccinated,” said Patricia D. Wellenbach, President and CEO, Please Touch Museum. “It is so important that families continue to be diligent in protecting children from COVID-19, even as the risk lessens with increased vaccination. For us at the Museum, one of the key reasons we will continue to require all grownups to wear masks while visiting here, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, is to positively model behavior for our young guests. We will also continue to maintain our intensive cleaning protocols and timed ticketing even as we restore capacity throughout the summer. Our singular goal is to provide families with a fun, safe experience that allows our little ones to rediscover the joy of playing together and explore how to positively re-engage in the world around them after more than a year in the pandemic.”
DHS and its Office of Child Development and Early Learning, or OCDEL, along with the Department of Health, want to reiterate guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends that children under the age of 2 do not wear face coverings. Children between the ages of 2 and 12, however, should wear a face covering in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere indoors when they will be around other people outside of their household.
If a child is unable to wear a face covering, the CDC recommends more low-risk activities, such as enjoying activities outdoors with members of their household or attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends. Risk of COVID-19 infection increases if unvaccinated children gather from multiple households; therefore, the safest place to visit is outdoors. Children, regardless of age, with underlying medical conditions may also be at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 compared to other children.
Indoor activities can occur so long as all people involved take proper precautions, including wearing a face covering that fits snuggly, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and visiting in a well-ventilated space. This includes visiting with fully vaccinated grandparents without wearing face coverings or physical distancing, provided none of the unvaccinated family members are at risk of severe COVID-19.
All of this guidance, regardless of a child’s age or vaccination status, should be applied along with:
- Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds,
- Making sure your child covers their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing,
- Staying home if you are unvaccinated sick with, tested positive for COVID-19, or were recently (within 14 days) exposed to COVID-19,
- And continuing routine doctor appointments and vaccine visits.
Any person, regardless of vaccination status, experiencing new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still needs to isolate and be evaluated for COVID-19.
More information can be found here.