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Question

My children want to have birthday parties with their friends but can't get COVID-19 vaccines yet. Is it safe?

Datta Munshi MD, FAAP

Answer

​​​​Families can lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission during get-togethers, even with kids too young to get the vaccine yet. They key is taking some extra precautions.

We are all ready for a return to our normal, including familiar family traditions like backyard barbeques and birthday parties. Anyone over age 12 can now receive COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, making it safe for small groups of fully vaccinated people to gather. While vaccines are not yet authorized for younger teens and children, extra safety steps can help keep them safe.

Some tips to keep in mind if hosting ​​a gathering for your child:

Plan small outdoor gatherings

Keep gatherings to less than 10 children and choose outdoor venues whenever possible. (Hint: think picnic!) Being outside can lower the risk of transmitting the virus through the air, which is the main way it spreads. If there is any need to go inside, open windows to increase air circulation. Choose a space large enough that children can keep a safe physical distance of at least 3 feet from each other.

Be creative &​​ flexible

Involve your child to identify what is most important to them d​​uring the celebration. This can help narrow down the party itinerary and limit risk. Then, tweak the activities with safety in mind. For example:

Consider individual cupcakes, with candles just on the birthday child's, rather than a single, large cake.

Tip: When it's time to sing "Happy Birthday," blow out candles, and eat—activities that can spread more germs in the air—try to allow some extra room. If you do have a large cake, skip the candles and have a single person slice it and hand out pieces.

Offer single-serving beverages rather than pouring from shared containers.

Tip: Pre-filled water bottles decorated with guests' names can be a great take-home party favor.

Choose games and activities that don't involve close physical contact.

Tip: Individual crafts and classic games like charades, Simon Says, Freeze Frame, and Spud (using a soft foam ball) can be good choices. Brainstorm together for other ideas, such as a nature scavenger hunt or a "drive-in" movie, where each child gets a box they can decorate and "park" a safe distance apart.

Get vaccinated if you are eligible

COVID-19 vaccination is our best hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection. Vaccines are especially important now with rising cases caused by variants of the virus, which appear to spread more easily. Since younger children are not yet eligible for the vaccine, they are reliant upon adults following public health protocols and getting vaccinated to stay protected as possible.​

Continue the basics

Especially until more people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, make sure everyone continues basic safety steps. This includes frequent hand washing, physical distancing and wearing face masks, especially in crowded indoor or outdoor spaces. Also, remind parents their child should stay home if they are not feeling well, have had a fever within the past couple days, or had close contact within the past two weeks with someone who has COVID-19.

Remember

Children and teens have had an especially tough time dealing with all the changes needed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We can help children ease back into dearly missed events like birthday parties and other landmark celebrations such as graduation picnics. Just remember to prioritize safety, head outside whenever possible, be creative and flexible when needed, and get your COVID-19 vaccines when you can.

More information


Datta Munshi MD, FAAP

Dr. Datta Munshi is a community pediatrician in Georgia with a strong interest in pediatric behavioral health. She serves on the Georgia AAP School Health Committee, and faculty for the AAP Mental Health in Schools Project. She enjoys guest lecturing pediatric residents at Emory University School of Medicine.​​ In her free time, she tries to keep up with her 3 children’s sports schedules and her 2 Portuguese water dogs.​​

Last Updated
5/26/2021
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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