It’s almost that ghoulish time of year when jack-o’-lanterns light up the night and costumed children venture out in search of treats. This Halloween, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center (JHCC) experts say it’s important to keep up with traditions, but to do so safely in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The delta variant of the coronavirus is still very prominent, so families should be cautious,” says JHCC pediatric infectious diseases specialist Aaron Milstone, M.D., M.H.S., who also is a professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But with many people vaccinated this year against COVID-19, there’s less risk involved than last Halloween.”
Milstone and his JHCC colleagues believe that trick-or-treating will be safer than last year when there were many unknowns and no available vaccine. Experts say it’s OK for kids to go door-to-door for candy as long as they can choose an individually wrapped treat out of a neighbor’s bowl.
“If families do decide to go trick-or-treating or celebrate Halloween in another way, parents of adolescents should consider getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19,” says Allison Agwu, M.D., Sc.M., JHCC adult and pediatric infectious diseases specialist, and a professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “All children should wear face masks if physical distancing can’t be maintained, and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before digging into sweets.”
She adds that children should stay home if they are not feeling well.
JHCC experts say outdoor activities with a small group, such as hosting a Halloween party or scavenger hunt, or carving pumpkins and decorating the house, are safer ways to celebrate the holiday.
JHCC experts also recommend that, like every year, children stay on the sidewalk and be attentive to drivers on the road while trick-or-treating.
“This has been a challenging year for kids especially, so families should absolutely celebrate Halloween in ways that also keep kids safe and happy,” Milstone says.