Children don’t need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to safely resume in-person instruction in schools, Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said on Dec. 27.
“It’s vital for their health to get them back physically present as soon as possible,” he added.
Giroir cited a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which indicates that schools aren’t a significant locus of COVID-19 transmission among children.
The MMWR report, published on Dec. 18, found that “close contact with persons with COVID-19 and gatherings with persons outside the household and lack of consistent mask use in school were associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, whereas attending school or child care was not associated with receiving positive SARS-CoV-2 test results.”
“There is data upon data upon data that children could go back to school safely in person,” Giroir said, adding that there is currently a lack of data showing that Pfizer’s vaccine is safe to use by those 16 years old and younger, and, for the Moderna vaccine, by those 18 and under. He said such data is forthcoming.
Giroir said that if community spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus drops after the Christmas season, it will be even safer for children to get back to school.
He said it’s too early to tell if increased travel over the holidays will lead to a spike in infections.
“It really depends on what the travelers do when they get where they’re going,” Giroir said.
“We know the actual physical act of traveling in airplanes, for example, can be quite safe because of the air purification systems,” he said. “What we really worry about is the mingling of different bubbles once you get to your destination. Over Thanksgiving, we saw a mixed picture. In the Midwest and in the northern Plains, cases continued to go down despite the travel.”
He said the most important factor for virus transmission is how careful Americans are in observing health precautions.
“I really encourage people to follow the CDC guidelines, make your family gatherings small, safe, protect the elderly and we can get through this,” Giroir said.
Nearly 19 million cases of the CCP virus have been diagnosed in the United States, with the current death toll at more than 330,000.