As more adults get vaccinated, what can kids do to keep safe?

LADERA RANCH, Calif. (KABC) -- Warmer days, holidays, spring break and increased vaccinations have many itching to hit the road or gather with family, but a top Orange County pediatrician urges people not to let their guard down.

COVID-19 is still here, kids are not immune and some newer versions of the virus are more contagious, the pediatrician warns.

Shots in arms are the quickest way out of this pandemic, according to Dr. Kate Williamson, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Orange County and Mission Hospital. Williamson is also the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics-Orange County Chapter.

"It is true. There are some variants going around that increase the likelihood of spread, which is scary news and so the most important thing is to continue to physically distance for kids. When they're at school, they need to mask," Dr. Williamson said. "When they're around anybody else who is not vaccinated, they need to continue to mask and get your family vaccinated as quickly as possible."

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Dr. Michael Osterholm previously supported sending children back to school, but says now the situation has changed.

For children in California, that starts April 15, when those over the age of 16 are eligible for the shot.

"In terms of the speed of the trials which happened, no parts were cut out. Everything was done in a very safe manner just like every other vaccine is safe for kids," Williamson said.

No matter what age, for those not yet immunized, Williamson said recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still hold - wear masks, maintain physical distancing and wash your hands frequently.

The goal is to not give this virus the opportunity to spread, replicate and mutate.

"The virus can't mutate if it can't replicate, so please get vaccinated is what I'm telling everybody and my patients' parents are so excited to get the COVID-19 shot," Williamson said.

Williamson said based on trials, she expected vaccine eligibility to open to children ages 12 to 15 by this summer.

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