Tips for a COVID-safe Halloween

‘We have quite a few tools in our toolkit to make this Halloween safe,’ says UCLA Health pediatrician and infectious disease expert Annabelle de St. Maurice.

With COVID-19 cases on the decline in Los Angeles County and vaccine uptake strong throughout the state, traditional Halloween festivities are back in fashion, with kids hungry to go trick-or-treating and parents ready to party.

Celebrating Halloween should be safer this year than last, with COVID-19 cases on the decline and vaccine availability growing.

“I think it’s a lot safer than last year,” says UCLA Health pediatrician and infectious disease expert Annabelle de St. Maurice, MD, MPH. “We have vaccines now, which protect children from parents and adults who might be infectious. We have a better understanding of transmission. And we know that masks work. We have quite a few tools in our toolkit to make this Halloween safe.”

Since COVID-19 vaccines aren’t yet available for children younger than 12, the best thing parents can do to protect their kids from the virus is get vaccinated themselves, Dr. de St. Maurice says.

Here are more tips to keep your spooky celebrations COVID-safe:

Trick-or-treating

“We know that transmission outdoors is a lot lower than transmission indoors,” says Dr. de St. Maurice. “Trick-or-treating is pretty safe, generally, because you’re outdoors.”

Even the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, MD, is telling families to “go out there” and “enjoy it."

Still, county health officials advise keeping your group small and avoiding crowded streets or houses. Children who are immunocompromised should wear a face mask, Dr. de St. Maurice says, and kids who aren’t feeling well should stay home.

Halloween parties

Stick to outdoor celebrations, if possible, for both adults and children, Dr. de St. Maurice says.

“Bobbing for apples is probably not a good idea,” she says.

Dr. Annabelle de St. Maurice

If you are planning an indoor gathering, opt to keep it small. Ask guests if they are vaccinated or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. And consider wearing a face mask indoors.

Costume parades

The West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, a crowded and colorful celebration that’s been shutting down Santa Monica Boulevard on Halloween night since 1987, has been canceled again this year because of COVID-19.

But neighborhood costume contests and school costume parades are quite safe if held outdoors.

Haunted houses

County health officials recommend avoiding haunted houses, where crowding and screaming are likely.

When we yell or scream, we emit droplets that can carry viruses and these droplets can build up indoors. If a screamer is infected with COVID-19, it increases the risk of illness for everyone in the space.

For the latest information, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Info Hub.

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