More than half of all Australians over the age of 50 have received both vaccinations, and 62% over the age of 70.
Being fully vaccinated means these older Australians are less likely to contract COVID-19, and even if they do, they are less likely to suffer severe illness requiring hospitalisation, or die.
Is it safe for grandparents to visit their grandkids?
Once two weeks have passed from the time of the second vaccine, is it safe for grandparents to see – and give a big hug to – their grandchildren, even if those grandchildren have not been vaccinated?
Infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy told HelloCare, “Generally, it is safe” for vaccinated grandparents to see their unvaccinated grandchildren.
However, there is one important caveat. If the grandchildren have any COVID-19 symptoms at all – a cough, a cold, a runny nose or fever – visits are definitely a “no-no”.
Epidemiologist and adviser to the World Health Organisation, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, told HelloCare a different approach has to be taken if the grandchildren live in a hotspot area, such as western Sydney in NSW.
Outside those hotspots, the risk is “very minimal”, she said.
Professor McLaws said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) needs to approve Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) so grandchildren can be tested in real time to see if they have picked up the virus in hotspot areas.
“This would enable people who are concerned about grandparents who, though vaccinated, may not have developed a high or protective immunity,” she said.
As Australia opens up, RAT will become even more important, she said.
“We need the TGA to start thinking ahead of the game,” the Professor continued.
The tests cost around $10 each and are “very practical”.
“That’s got to be the next step.”
Families benefit from spending time together
Spending time together has benefits for both grandparents and grandchildren, says Professor Booy.
“We are a family oriented species,” he explained.
“We have to find ways to make it happen.”
For unvaccinated grandparents, he wasn’t so encouraging. It’s “ridiculous” some “at-risk” people have still not received their jabs, he said.
“They’re putting themselves at increased risk,” he continued, calling on them to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
For the unvaccinated and those in high-risk areas, grandparents can stay in touch with grandchildren virtually, for example, with conversations on WhatsApp or through social media sites such as Facebook.
After lengthy periods of lockdown, being close to family is something we all value more than ever. Many of us have distant family members and we don’t know when we will be permitted to see them again – it could be years.
For those lucky enough to have family nearby, when lockdown restrictions permit it, that contact is sweeter than ever and the opportunity should be taken up.
For grandparents who have taken it upon themselves to get vaccinated, they can be reassured it’s quite safe to hang out with their unvaccinated grandkids.
Do you think it’s safe for grandparents to visit their unvaccinated grandkids? Share your thoughts below.