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What does new mask guidance mean for unvaccinated kids and their parents?

Coronavirus

TOWN AND COUNTRY, Mo. (KTVI) – When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated individuals could safely take their masks off in most settings, one group that did not necessarily breathe a sigh of relief was parents of children under 12.

The CDC said last week that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors and can stop social distancing in most places. Fully vaccinated means two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

The CDC’s new guidance does not, however, have any specific advice for vaccinated parents with unvaccinated kids 12 and under in their households. There aren’t any vaccines currently approved for that age group in the United States, which means the younger set needs to keep masking for the time being.

“We’re still keeping our masks up and trying to keep her as safe as possible,” said Stacey Kohner, who has a 10-year-old. “Doing the best we can. Hopefully, she’s on the next vaccination list.”

While children and adolescents who get infected by the coronavirus tend to have less severe cases of COVID-19, they can still get sick and spread the virus to others. Medical experts say unvaccinated people ages 2 and up should continue to wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.

“Let’s say you want to go over to the grandparents’ house with … your 8-year-old. … They’re not going to be vaccinated for a while, and they’re the only ones unvaccinated and everybody else is vaccinated,” said Dr. Jason Newland, pediatric infectious disease specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“It’s probably really safe. Not 100%, because you could have somebody in that household who has had a transplant of some sort. Let’s say they had a bone marrow transplant, or let’s just say their immune system is down. Well, maybe in that setting, we don’t want to take the risk. We’re going to make sure our 8-year-old is masked,” said Newland.

More than 123 million Americans — 37% of the population — are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, and more than 157 million, or 47%, have received at least one dose.

The manufacturers of the three vaccines authorized in the U.S. are studying the safety and effectiveness of their vaccines in children, including those as young as 6 months of age. Medical experts believe the vaccine for kids 12 and under should be approved within the next year.

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