PORTLAND, Maine — More kids under age five tested positive for COVID in December of 2021 than in any other month during the pandemic.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data show 1,235 kids in that age group got infected with the virus in December alone. Kids under the age of five are too young to get vaccinated for COVID right now. Kids under age two are not advised to wear a mask.
Vaccines and masks are two of the most effective prevention measures, according to public health leaders all over the country.
"It's a very difficult situation," said Suzanne Moreshead, RN, the associate vice president on infection prevention for Northern Light Health.
She said parents must know what COVID protocols their kid's childcare facility has in place.
"Kids that are ill, or if the kids have family members that are ill, are kept from the rest of the population. And ideally, they're not allowed to come into that facility whatsoever," Moreshead said.
The most updated guidance from the state for childcare facilities is from June 2021. Much has changed since then, including boosters, vaccine eligibilities, new variants, and new quarantine policies. Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Jackie Farwell said the U.S. CDC will soon issue further guidance for childcare facilities.
"We look forward to reviewing it and working with providers to ensure they have the most up-to-date information to keep children and staff safe and healthy," Jackie Farwell wrote in an e-mail.
Moreshead said it's critical to make handwashing a routine for kids.
"If we can start that earlier, that's going to help the spread of not just COVID, but all sorts of other illness in these really close daycare-type settings," Moreshead said.
She also advised parents to get vaccinated, boosted, wear masks, stay home, and social distance as much as possible.
"Help us get through this surge. Get boosted. Please get boosted," she said.
Maine CDC data showed about 30 kids under age five have been hospitalized with COVID so far out of more than 63,500 kids that age.