CareNow® - October 20, 2021

In years past, Halloween has been a holiday for children to spend trick or treating, visiting haunted houses and attending costume parades. However, the coronavirus pandemic changed that, forcing families to look at safety in a whole new light.

Experts say that it’s still safe to celebrate Halloween, as long as you take the proper precautions. In fact, for children who’ve had their lives turned upside down as a result of the pandemic, it’s a good idea to give them some sort of structure and normalcy again instead of canceling Halloween celebrations completely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided its recommendations on how to celebrate safely while keeping risks at a minimum. While some of the Halloween traditions like indoor costume parties may still be considered high-risk, there are many other activities that can be done safely.

For children and adults that are fully vaccinated (meaning they’ve passed the two weeks since their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or their first dose of Johnson and Johnson vaccine), you can simply follow the CDC’s latest guidance for vaccinated people.

If you or your children are unvaccinated, here’s a look at how you can celebrate Halloween safely this year.

Practice general COVID-19 safety precautions

Just like you would any other time, it’s important to practice general COVID-19 safety precautions for Halloween festivities. This entails staying outdoors whenever possible, maintaining a distance of at least six feet, washing hands regularly and wearing a mask for those who are two years of age and older.

If you’re planning to gather with people that are not within your household, make an effort to keep those gatherings outdoors and include no more than 10 people if possible.

Put a new spin on traditional trick-or-treating

Just because your children are used to going house-to-house to treat or treat each year doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy a new spin on traditional trick-or-treating. In fact, some children may enjoy changing things up a bit.

Many people have come up with fun new ways to trick-or-treat, such as using homemade candy chutes and simply leaving goody bags that are individually wrapped at the end of their driveway to respect social distancing efforts.

The most important thing is that you keep contact with others to a minimum when possible. Try to avoid houses that have a big bowl of candy outside for all children to pick out of as this is a potential breeding ground for the COVID-19 virus.

Don’t stress over cleaning candy

Many parents believe they have to fully sanitize every piece of candy that their child eats. While it is important that your child washes their hands regularly, it isn’t necessary to wipe down everything.

While the virus can be spread via surfaces, it’s more likely that it’s spread by breathing in the air of other people. That’s why it’s a good idea to focus on protecting your child from airborne droplets by having them keep a safe distance from others and wearing a mask (if they’re two or older).

Come up with new traditions

Fortunately, there are many ways you can celebrate Halloween at home. Putting together a scavenger hunt by hiding pieces of candy throughout your home or yard is a great alternative to trick-or-treating.

More fun options for kids are to have a Zoom costume party, go carve pumpkins, and attend an outdoor costume parade (where they can physically distance). More often than not, most children care about getting to dress up and taking home plenty of candy.

Be comfortable with making adjustments

By now, you’re likely used to changing plans when necessary as a result of COVID-19. Halloween should be no different. You may make Halloween plans, only to determine they’re not safe. It’s a good idea to inform children that plans could change and come up with a plan B together.

Consider visiting attractions during off periods

Many parents want to treat their children to some of the same fall traditions they experienced growing up, like pumpkin patches, farm visits and corn mazes. Fortunately, most of these types of traditions are done outdoors, but they can be fairly crowded during peak times, making it difficult to keep young children socially distanced.

One way for your children to still experience these traditions without being at risk of COVID-19 is to go during off-hours or on weekdays. For instance, instead of visiting the pumpkin patch at 1 pm on a Saturday in October, try 3 pm on a Wednesday instead.

What to do if your child’s been exposed to COVID-19

If you’re able to follow the guidelines listed above for your unvaccinated children, they should stay safe and healthy during the fall months. However, it is always possible for them to be exposed to COVID-19, either during Halloween activities or at school.

According to the CDC, a COVID-19 exposure occurs whenever someone has been within six feet of an infected person while they are symptomatic (or two days before symptoms begin) for a minimum of 15 minutes.

If you have reason to believe your child has been exposed, it’s recommended that they remain at home for a minimum of 14 days after exposure. Keep in mind that your child could have been exposed up to two days prior to the exposer experiencing symptoms.

Typically, it’s not necessary for your child to get tested for COVID-19 if he or she is not experiencing symptoms. You should also note that your child could still develop symptoms after a test is administered.

If you believe your child or you have been exposed to COVID-19 and would like to be tested, you can do so at select CareNow® clinics. We offer both a rapid test and laboratory test. You will receive your rapid test results within 15 minutes of testing, while the laboratory test may take two to five days.

Before your appointment, don’t forget to utilize our Web Check-In® feature so you can wait from anywhere that’s convenient for you!

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.