Halloween Is On This Year, Experts Say

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Like many events last year, Halloween was largely put on hold. This year, however, doctors have given kids the green light to go trick-or-treating.

“Many people are vaccinated, and for kids who can’t yet get vaccinated, trick-or-treating is a low-risk activity because it’s outside,” says Jennifer Burgess, D.O., a primary care physician at Henry Ford Health System. “The biggest risk is going up to the door to get candy. Out of respect for the person handing out the candy, I recommend putting on a mask, just while you’re interacting with them.” 

(Masks that come with costumes shouldn’t take the place of layered, cloth masks, Dr. Burgess adds, as layered masks provide more protection against COVID-19 transmission.)

You also don’t have to worry about packaged candy being a carrier for COVID-19. We learned early on in the pandemic that COVID-19 is an airborne virus, and it isn’t likely to be transmitted from one person to another via surfaces.

“If you really want to, you can let the candy sit out before eating it, but it’s not necessary,” says Dr. Burgess.

Low-Risk Fall Activities

While Dr. Burgess cautions that indoor Halloween parties are high-risk in terms of contracting COVID-19, there are plenty of additional low-risk ways to celebrate Halloween throughout the month of October:

  • Picking out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch. Then, of course, bring them home to carve—and roast the seeds.
  • Heading to the apple orchard. The kids will love filling their own bag of apples. (Not to mention the apple pie that you can make afterward.)
  • Hanging out at the cider mill. Just one note: waiting in line for donuts at the cider mill is higher risk, so wear a mask when in line with other people.
  • Enjoying a haunted corn maze. Opt for a haunted corn maze--which is outside--instead of an indoor haunted house. 

“The nice thing about fall is that a lot of activities are outside, which makes them low risk,” says Dr. Burgess. “It has been 18 months since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we were hoping things would be different at this point. But now, COVID-19 is probably going to be here to stay, so we need to find ways to be safe and still enjoy life, which I think we’re already figuring out how to do.” 

Looking Ahead To The Holidays

And what about Thanksgiving and Christmas?

“If children under 12 can be vaccinated by then, it will be a game changer,” says Dr. Burgess. "But at this point, if you have kids or family members who aren’t vaccinated, it’s best to weigh the risks and benefits before deciding upon a gathering.

“Not being around our family during the holidays can cause or exacerbate mental health issues, so we just have to find ways to safely celebrate with family. If the majority of your group is vaccinated, it’s lower risk. There's still a risk, but it’s a lower risk than if the majority of your group isn't vaccinated.”

If you are eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, make sure to do it before the holidays. “We know it takes two weeks after getting vaccinated for it to take full effect,” says Dr. Burgess. “So plan to get your third shot two weeks before traveling or before getting together with family. It will provide additional protection for both you and your family.” 

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To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

For answers to common questions about COVID-19 vaccines, visit henryford.com/coronavirus/vaccine-faqs.

Dr. Jennifer Burgess is a family medicine doctor seeing patients at Henry Ford Medical Center in Commerce Township and West Bloomfield.

Categories: ParentWell