What the change in CDC mask guidance means for unvaccinated kids under 12

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The new recommendation that fully vaccinated people can lose their masks is great for adults, but what about kids - specifically kids under 12 - who can't get the vaccine yet?

In many situations, younger kids will need to continue to wear their masks, but the good news is that the more people, adults and older children who get vaccinated, the lower the risk is for everyone - including unvaccinated kids.

"You have to think about the risk to the child," said Dr. Emily Souder.

Dr. Sauder is a pediatric infectious disease doctor at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. She says parents of kids under 12 or older but still unvaccinated need to continue taking precautions and choose activities that are low-risk for the entire family.

"Choosing outdoor whenever possible, interacting with other vaccinated groups also would be lower risk too," she said.

Clinical trials are underway to test the vaccine in kids as young as 6 months, but if and when it will be authorized for these groups is still a question.

Kids are less likely to become seriously sick from COVID-19, but more than 3,000 have suffered a severe complication and dozens have died.

Having kids wear a face mask, keep distance and getting more people in the community vaccinated helps protect them.

"As more people choose to be vaccinated, which hopefully will be the case, those numbers will continue to go down, so I think children overall will be at lower risk just because the virus circulating in the community will be lower," said Dr. Sauder.

But some kids may find it unfair that they have to wear a mask and parents don't. Older children may understand the reason, but for parents of younger children, Dr. Souder says parents may need to keep wearing their masks.

"It may be the case where the parents may choose to continue to wear masks to model that behavior for children who are unvaccinated," she said.

And if you are still on the fence about getting vaccinated, keep in mind it not only protects you but also people around you, including kids who are not yet authorized to get the vaccine and anyone with compromised immune system.
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