With many summer camps open again this year, parents of kids with asthma and allergies need to make sure the one they choose is safe for their youngsters.
While federal health officials have issued guidelines to protect campers and staff from COVID-19, "camps still need to make sure measures are in place in case a camper has an allergic reaction or an asthma flare," said Dr. Luz Fonacier, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Most campers won't be vaccinated against COVID, so the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges camps to use masks, practice social distancing and have adequate supplies for sanitizing. That recommendation applies even if all camp employees have had their COVID shot.
Fonacier said an allergist should check over youngsters with asthma or allergies before they go to camp. The check should include confirming that prescriptions are up to date, symptoms are under control and dosing hasn't changed over the school year.
An allergist can provide advice on communicating with camp personnel about your child's triggers, medications and specific treatments, and also create a personalized plan for you to share with the camp.
If your child has food allergies, it's important to speak with camp personnel before camp starts. Ask kitchen staff how they handle the possibility of cross contamination, and inform counselors and medical staff about the foods that will cause your child to suffer an allergic reaction.
Your child should also tell fellow campers about their food allergy so that if they do have an allergic reaction, their friends will be prepared to help. If your child carries an epinephrine auto injector, make sure it's working and that they have a spare.
Though it is probably too late for this summer, you might want to consider an overnight camp designed for children with asthma and food allergies, Fonacier suggested.
These camps have specialized medical staff and personnel who know how to treat allergies and asthma and how to administer epinephrine.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has more on asthma and allergies.
SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, May 5, 2021