What’s the Risk? Which Activities Are Safe When Kids Aren’t Vaccinated Yet

In previous editions of What’s the Risk?, Connecticut Children’s pediatric experts have covered everything from playgrounds to farmers markets throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

But things just got more complicated for families whose adults and adolescents are vaccinated but younger kids aren’t. With COVID-19 and its variants still significant in the community, it’s important to keep unvaccinated kids away from risky situations by choosing activities wisely.

Connecticut Children’s Physician-in-Chief Juan Salazar, MD, MPH, weighs in.


Want more articles like this from pediatric experts you trust?

Sign up for our newsletter.


Continue to take precautions to keep your child safe from COVID-19.

  • Unvaccinated kids should continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor situations where social distancing isn’t possible.
  • Being outside in the fresh air is still the best way to reduce everyone’s risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
  • If you’re considering a group activity or event, confirm COVID-19 precautions ahead of time. If the activity is indoors, are masks required for unvaccinated individuals? Is there a plan for social distancing? Will attendance be limited?
  • If anyone in your family is feeling sick or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home and call your doctor.

Lower Risk Activities

Two grandchildren climb on, kiss and hug grandfather

  • Visiting with fully vaccinated loved ones: As long as your unvaccinated child isn’t at high risk for COVID-19 complications due to an underlying medical condition, the CDC says they can visit fully vaccinated individuals from one household, even indoors and without a mask. (For kids who are high risk, a safer alternative is to visit outdoors or with masks.) That means that visits with grandparents are back on! But if more than one household shows up, move the fun outdoors or have your child mask up.
  • Playdates with precautions: With the right safety measures, this can also be lower risk. Limit the group size, hold activities outside when possible, and make sure kids wear masks indoors. Space kids three to six feet apart when it’s time to eat or drink.
  • Camping:  Make sure the park requires masks and social distancing in indoor communal spaces like the visitor center and that there will be plenty of distance between campsites.
  • Quiet beaches and parks: Thanks to the wide open space, these are lower-risk destinations –but as always, if it becomes crowded, your child should maintain six feet of distance from others (and if that’s not possible, mask up).

> Related: How to Make Your Home Playscape Safe for Kids

Moderate to Higher Risk Activities

Boy and girl ride in two-person kayak

  • Summer camp: Camps should have a COVID-19 screening policy for when campers arrive, create cohorts, and have plans in place for social distancing and hand hygiene stations. They should host as many activities outdoors as possible, and indoor spaces should be well ventilated. While your child’s summer camp may decide to allow unvaccinated kids to go unmasked for many outdoor activities, they should require masks indoors for unvaccinated individuals.
  • Public swimming pools: Physical exertion and yelling can easily spread germ droplets into the air – so swimming in a public pool, even outdoors, is higher risk when there’s a crowd. You can reduce your child’s risk by going at off-peak hours and making sure your child can keep their distance from others, in and out of the water.
  • Movie theaters: Because this takes place indoors and for an extended period of time, it’s a higher risk. If you do choose to head to the movies, any unvaccinated members of your family should wear masks and keep their distance from other moviegoers. Avoid clustering in high-traffic areas, like the refreshments counter.
  • Travel: The CDC advises against travel for anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated, because airports and rest stops put your family in close contact with people outside your household. If you’re still considering it, check out this advice for safer travel during COVID-19 – like opting for a road trip. You’ll also need to check state and local health departments to see if there are any travel restrictions for where you live, and for anywhere along your route or where you’ll be staying.
  • Popular beaches: The more crowded the setting, the riskier it is – even outdoors. So do your research, and avoid popular beaches at peak times. 
  • Eating at restaurants: Eating and drinking around others, when masks are off, is a high-risk activity for unvaccinated individuals. So until your child is vaccinated, you should still stick with safer alternatives, like packing a picnic to eat at a park, or choosing curbside delivery to eat at home. If you’re set on eating at a restaurant, choose outdoor seating: Thanks to the fresh air circulation, it’s much safer than indoor dining.

Keep an eye on the latest news for a COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids.

The vaccine has been authorized for children as young as age 12, and trials for even younger children are ongoing. Once your child is eligible, please plan on scheduling theirs. It’s the best way to keep them safe from COVID-19 so your whole family can return to the activities you love.


Related links


Share This Post

Newsletter Sign-up
Want our latest Blog posts sent directly to your inbox once a month? Sign-up below.
Back to Top
Searching Animation