Vaccinated Children Likely Still Have to Wear Masks in School, Surgeon General Says

By GQ Pan
GQ Pan
GQ Pan
Reporter
October 21, 2021 Updated: October 21, 2021

Indoor mask mandates at schools will likely to stay in place even after young children receive COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks, said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

In an Oct. 21 interview on CNN’s “New Day,” Murthy was asked how much the vaccination of children ages 5-11 would affect the need of having them wear masks in the classroom. He replied that those who are vaccinated may still need to wear a mask until the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says otherwise.

“The CDC has guidance currently says even if you are vaccinated, you do need to wear a mask,” Murthy said. “That will likely be the case for children until the CDC changes it.”

He then advised parents that having their kids vaccinated “reduces the pressure” to quarantine them when they are exposed to the virus.

“We know that if you have somebody in the classroom who is exposed, but if you’re vaccinated, your chances of actually getting sick are much, much less,” Murthy said.

While children represented about 16 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the United States, death and severe illness due to COVID-19 remain uncommon among American children. As of Oct. 20, the CDC reported 637 Americans aged under 18 died of COVID-19.

Murthy’s remark comes after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters Wednesday that even if children are fully vaccinated, they should still be masked in schools.

“It will take some time and as I just noted, as we head into these winter months we know we cannot be complacent. We also know that from previous data that schools that have had masks in place were three-and-a-half times less likely to have school outbreaks requiring school closure,” Walensky said during a White House briefing.

Meanwhile, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo is questioning whether data actually suggests that mask mandates help stop the spread of the virus in schools.

“In terms of the data that supports mask use in kids and mandates for masking kids, it is very weak and that’s a fact,” Ladapo, who became the state surgeon general in September, said at an Oct. 20 event with Gov. Ron DeSantis. “There is a substantial gap between the quality of data out there supporting masking kids yielding any benefit for kids, whatsoever, factual, and what we’re hearing from some of our public health leadership in other states and nationally.”

“In Florida, we are going to stay close to the data and we’re going to let you know how we feel about the data,” he continued. “The data do not support any clinical benefit for children in schools with mask mandates. The highest quality data find no evidence of benefit.”

GQ Pan
Reporter