#childsafety | Minnesota family shares advice on keeping unvaccinated kids safe during COVID-19 pandemic

This has been a hard situation for parents since kids need some normalcy and miss hanging with friends and family. This presents a bigger challenge for those with kids who have underlying health conditions like the Olthoff family.

“It was really terrifying when the pandemic hit. We have done everything we can to keep them healthy and keep them safe and that’s really really self quarantining,” said Ashley Olthoff. Ashley is from Duluth but now lives in Minneapolis.

She has two beautiful boys, six-year-old Oliver and three-year-old Keith. Oliver has down syndrome and is in treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Keeping him safe during these times has been a huge focus and priority.

“They both have gotten a lot better at wearing masks. We got masks that have superheroes on them,” said Olthoff.

Olthoff said although she’s happy her and her husband are fully vaccinated now, nothing has changed for them as far as gatherings and outings go since the kids aren’t vaccinated. This is something a lot of parents are trying to navigate, how to keep unvaccinated kids safe and getting creative with safe play dates.

“As a family we try to spend as much time outside as we can and if we get together with other friends outdoors seems to be the best,” said Olthoff.

“We still need to be careful about staying away from people as much as we can like large groups,” said Sherry Johnson, a nurse practitioner for St. Luke’s.

Maintaining COVID-19 precautions continues to be the big message. Kids have of course gotten used to doing this at home, daycare and school but reinforcing the message is important.

“I just sent out a reminder to parents that it’s really great that everybody is well on the way to being vaccinated but we still need to keep our kids safe so please remember to sanitize every day that you come in, wear a mask and don’t come into the classroom, your teacher will bring your student to you,” said Katie Diaz, the director of University Nursery School at Coppertop.

Since we don’t know when kids will be able to get the shot, continuing with those health and safety precautions is key in avoiding getting others sick and spreading the virus.

“You might be standing in line at Target next to the mother of a child with cancer so try to keep everybody healthy let’s try to all keep the little kiddos healthy right now,” said Olthoff.

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