HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead and Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson made a visit to the Whitaker Center on Wednesday to give advice on how to keep children and their families safe when those under 12 are still ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

DHS, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), and the Dept. of Health are asking families to continue following guidance from the CDC. Those recommendations include wearing face coverings in public if a child is over two. This includes events, gatherings and anywhere indoors when other people outside of their immediate household are around.

Officials are also continuing to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated for everyone over the age of 12.

“COVID-19 vaccines are the best tools we have to protect against COVID-19 and any variants of the virus,” Dr. Johnson said. “Vaccines are also a way to protect those who cannot get the vaccine yet, such as children under the age of 12. We’re encouraging everyone, especially parents of young children, to consider getting vaccinated. We have the power to stop the spread of this virus and keep ourselves, our children, friends and family safe by getting vaccinated.”

The CDC also recommends holding gatherings outside, as it’s the safest way to prevent spread from unvaccinated children. Children with underlying medical conditions are especially at risk for severe illness, so they say continued mask-wearing is best practice.

“While the statewide mask guidance has been lifted, it’s important that we continue to take steps to keep ourselves, our children, our friends and family safe. I urge everybody to get vaccinated and to follow CDC guidance so we can gather together safely,” Sec. Snead said. “We must remain vigilant and continue working together to prevent further spread of COVID-19 between children and families.”

The Whitaker Center added the need to continue COVID safety and staying smart so their child programs can continue to run efficiently.

“Children’s safety is our top priority, and we have a very busy summer taking place with many children attending summer camps, as well as having our Harsco Science Center and Select Medical Digital Cinema open to the public,” Whitaker Center Chief Operating Officer Meghan Clark said. “We are strongly encouraging all guests to continue to wear masks when visiting to set an example for the children to continue to wear masks. All of our summer campers are also strongly encouraged to wear masks throughout the day. Our most important objective is for families to feel safe when they are visiting and to provide families with a fun experience while being safe.”

The Dept. of Health also recommends precautions such as hand washing, covering mouth and nose when sneezing, staying home when feeling sick and continuing routine doctor appointments.