Dr. Fauci says children should ‘continue to wear masks’ when they play with other kids
Unvaccinated American children will need to continue to wear masks if they ‘interact with groups from other households,’ Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert said that it is ‘conceivable’ parents will be able to send their kids to playgrounds and summer camps so long as mass vaccination continues at the same pace.
‘We now have three to 3.5 million vaccinations each day,’ Fauci, who is President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CBS News’ Face the Nation.
‘If we keep up at that pace, invariably that’s going to drive the rate and the level of infections per day to a much, much lower level.
FAUCI COMMENTS ABOUT CHILDREN START AT 2:50
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said children should continue to wear masks while playing with other kids ‘from different households’
‘If we get into the summer, and you have a considerable percentage of the population vaccinated and the level in the community gets below that plateau that’s worrying me and my colleagues in public health, it is conceivable that you will have a good degree of flexibility in the summer, even with the children with things like camp.’
Fauci added: ‘We don’t know that for sure, but I think that’s an aspirational goal that we should go for.’
When asked if vaccinated parents should be worried about their unvaccinated children playing in groups with other kids who have not been inoculated against COVID-19, Fauci said there is still a risk of infection.
He said that families do not need to wear masks when they’re indoors with each other and the parents have gotten the vaccine.
But Fauci added: ‘When the children go out into the community, you want them to continue to wear masks when they’re interacting with groups from multiple households.’
Researchers in the U.S. and abroad are beginning to test younger and younger kids to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work for each age.
The first shots are going to adults who are most at risk from the coronavirus, but ending the pandemic will require vaccinating children too.
Earlier this month, Fauci told Congress he expected that high school students likely would begin getting vaccinated in the fall. The elementary students, he said, may not be eligible until early 2022. The image above shows students wearing face masks at St. Joseph Catholic School in La Puente, California on November 16
So far in the United States, teen testing is furthest along: Pfizer and Moderna expect to release results soon showing how two doses of their vaccines performed in the 12 and older crowd.
Pfizer is currently authorized for use starting at age 16; Moderna is for people 18 and older.
But younger children may need different doses than teens and adults.
Moderna recently began a study similar to Pfizer’s new trial, as both companies hunt the right dosage of each shot for each age group as they work toward eventually vaccinating babies as young as 6 months.
Last month in Britain, AstraZeneca began a study of its vaccine among six- to 17-year-olds. Johnson & Johnson is planning its own pediatric studies.
And in China, Sinovac recently announced it has submitted preliminary data to Chinese regulators showing its vaccine is safe in children as young as three.
Getting this data, for all the vaccines being rolled out, is critical because countries must vaccinate children to achieve herd immunity, noted Duke pediatric and vaccine specialist Dr. Emmanuel ‘Chip’ Walter, who is helping to lead the Pfizer study.
Most COVID-19 vaccines being used around the world were first studied in tens of thousands of adults.
Studies in children won’t need to be nearly as large: Researchers have safety information from those studies and subsequent vaccinations of millions of adults.
And because children’s infection rates are so low – they make up about 13 per cent of COVID-19 cases documented in the US – the main focus of pediatric studies isn’t counting numbers of illnesses.
Instead researchers are measuring whether the vaccines rev up youngsters’ immune systems much like they do adults’ – suggesting they’ll offer similar protection.
Proving that is important because while children are far less likely than adults to get seriously ill, at least 268 have died from COVID-19 in the US alone and more than 13,500 have been hospitalized, according to a tally by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
That’s more than die from the flu in an promedio year.
Additionally, a small number have developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus.
Apart from their own health risks, there still are questions about how easily children can spread the virus, something that has complicated efforts to reopen schools.
Earlier this month, Fauci told Congress he expected that high school students likely would begin getting vaccinated in the fall. The elementary students, he said, may not be eligible until early 2022.
Fauci expressed concern that the country is beginning to ascend on an upward trajectory – a reversal of the trend that has taken hold in recent weeks.
‘When you’re coming down from a big peak and you reach a point and start to plateau, merienda you stay at that plateau, you’re really in danger of a surge coming up,’ he said.
‘And unfortunately, that’s what we’re starting to see.’
After the nation emerged from post-holiday peaks in January and February, the number of confirmed new cases hovered between 50,000 and 60,000 throughout March.
The plateau has now turned into a rise as some 30 states and the District of Columbia are reporting an increase in the rate of infection.
Fauci said that states’ rolling back of mitigation measures coupled with increased travel during spring break are likely the main reasons for the uptick.
‘Several states have done that. I believe it’s premature,’ Fauci said of the decision by several governors to lift mask mandates and restrictions on public gatherings and businesses.
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