RICHMOND, Va. -- As the United States enters its second Halloween in the era of COVID-19 health officials, including the nation's top infectious disease expert, said that families should be able to celebrate some of the more traditional activities, but still suggest some precautions.
"There's a little bit more freedom I've had to celebrate Halloween this year," said Richmond and Henrico Health District public information officer Cat Long. She added that among the differences from last year's holiday -- there is now a vaccine approved for those ages 12-and-up. "In the circumstance last year, we were concerned about children getting COVID-19 during holiday -- not only for themselves -- but then possibly passing it along to more vulnerable parents or grandparents."
Long recommends for whatever pre-Halloween festivities you may be planning to keep it to members within the same household. But, if you do mix households, to hold or attend events that are outdoors and not overly crowded.
"As far as trick or treating, we anticipate that lots of kids will be able to go trick-or-treating this year," added Long. "We ask that kids who are too young to be vaccinated wear a mask. And if you choose to give out candy this year, we ask that you wear a mask, particularly if you're unvaccinated."
She added parents could also use prepared treat bags left out on a table to minimize contact and allow for social distancing. When the night's haul has been brought home, make sure to wash or sanitize your kid's hands before allowing them to eat the candy.
Long also noted that while most of those who are of the trick-or-treating age are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, although preparations are underway for approval for the 5-11 crowd next month, they are eligible to get a flu shot.
"We encourage parents to get their flu shots…because if a child is experiencing respiratory symptoms, you might not know what it's from, you might have to go find testing, and your child might have to miss out on trick-or-treating if you don't know why they're feeling sick," said Long. "So, something you can do to prevent that circumstance is to get your children vaccinated against flu to make sure that they stay as healthy as possible."