The federal health authorities are encouraging young people aged 12 and over who are going to camp this summer to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as possible. On Friday it said that camps where all staff and campers are vaccinated can lift many Covid restrictions, including masks. and return to full capacity. Unvaccinated children can do without a mask most of the time, as the risk of transmission outdoors is low.
“In camps in which everyone is fully vaccinated before the start of the camp, it is safe to be fully occupied again without masking and without physical distancing,” says the new guidelines.
In camps where not everyone is fully vaccinated, mask recommendations have been relaxed for everyone for most outdoor activities, unless the area is crowded and there is prolonged close contact. However, other prevention strategies should be maintained, including physical distancing, grouping adolescents into cohorts, or groups that do not mix with one another. encourage frequent hand washing; Avoid crowded environments and poorly ventilated indoor areas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that campers should support their choice if campers prefer to wear masks despite being fully vaccinated. Employees and campers with compromised immune systems are encouraged to speak to their providers and continue to take precautions such as wearing masks.
Individuals are considered fully vaccinated by the CDC two weeks after receiving the one-time Johnson & Johnson vaccine or second dose of Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
“More and more young people will be fully vaccinated by midsummer. Therefore, it is possible for camps to provide a camp experience for children who are fully vaccinated and for you to go back to the camp experience that existed before the summer pandemic: no masking, no distancing, and all the activities you would normally do “Said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who leads the CDC Task Force on Intervention in the Community and Critical Populations.
It found that 2.5 million children ages 12-15 received their first dose of a Pfizer vaccine in the last 18 days alone.
Individual camps have the flexibility to determine how to check the vaccination status of campers and how to run programs where not everyone is fully vaccinated, she said. They could mix vaccinated and unvaccinated campers, or group them into separate cohorts with different rules, or decide that to “keep unvaccinated campers as safe as possible, regardless of vaccination status, they could have standard rules throughout the camp. ”
The guide for campers follows the agency’s latest recommendation that fully vaccinated people can, in most situations, choose to go maskless.
Although a vaccine for children under the age of 12 is not yet available, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children ages 12 to 15 earlier this month. Younger children are expected to be vaccinated in the fall.
Tom Rosenberg, president and executive director of the American Camp Association, a nonprofit that accredits camps, said the new guidelines were issued just in time as many camps in the southern United States begin next week.
But he said, “The reality is that the majority of the camps are for children between the ages of six and 17, so a large proportion of the children who attend the camp will not be vaccinated because of their age. Therefore, the camps are preparing to cope with another Covid summer with a strategy to contain the shifts, as they did last year. “
Federal health officials urged the camps where campers are vaccinated to take other precautions, including ensuring good indoor ventilation by keeping windows open and using fans and air filters. practice good hand hygiene and breath etiquette; and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of areas with heavy contact.