The latest mask guidance from the CDC has been a mixed bag for millions of families. People who are fully vaccinated can take off their masks in most places, but where does that leave children too young for the vaccine?
50% of Americans are fully vaccinated and taking off their masks, according to the CDC. But the shots are not yet approved for children under 12. Some parents are worried unmasked crowds are putting their kids at risk. Aaron Neigher is a parent and said, “There seems to be a lot of unknown information about little kids and how the virus impacts them. So, you know, like just as a parent it’s hard not to worry.”
Nearly four million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP says severe illness is rare, but doctors don’t know yet about the longer-term effects.
“Children, just like adults, could potentially also have the ‘long COVID,’ and that is persistent symptoms beyond a few weeks,” says Dr. Roshni Mathew, a clinical associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Stanford Children’s Health.
CDC guidelines say kids should still wear masks and social distance indoors like in restaurants and schools. The CDC says when it comes to traveling with unvaccinated children, short road trips are recommended. If flying, look for nonstop flights to minimize time in security lines and crowded terminals. “You just can’t throw caution to the wind at this point,” Dr. Mathew says.
Neigher’s daughter, soon to be three-year-old Dorothy, is not shy about masking up. “She actually yelled at us because I was pulling my mask down on the train just now and she was like, ‘Daddy, don’t do that,’” he said. Dorothy’s parents are both fully vaccinated, but they’re wearing their masks as a courtesy to others and to be good role models for their daughter.
Pfizer expects to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization for children ages two through 11 by the fall.