Children should be wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, told Yahoo Finance Live.
“Our kids cannot get a vaccine so we treat them like any other population that can’t be vaccinated,” Davis said. “Where kids can mask, they should be masking, especially indoors.”
The FDA has yet to authorize a vaccine for children under 12. Currently, the Pfizer (PFE) vaccine can be administered to those over the age of 12, and the Moderna (MRNA) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) vaccines are approved for people 18 and up.
“Not all situations are created equal,” Davis said. Whether parents should feel comfortable sending their unvaccinated children to school depends on ‘a number of factors,’ the first being case positivity rate.
“If you live in a city, state, or region where the case positivity rate is low, and by that I mean 5%, I have no problem [with children returning to in-person learning]” Davis said.
Davis also cited “adequate ventilation” and sterilization of workspaces as two necessary protocols to ensure that schools are safe for children.
Even so, children ineligible for the vaccine “should still be social distancing wherever possible and handwashing past that,” she said.
Initial studies found children not to be a significant factor in the spread of the virus, though recent research has called this theory into question. And though the virus affects older people more strongly, doctors caution that younger people still can be hospitalized from the disease.
Earlier this week, President Biden announced that over 50% of the adult population had been fully vaccinated. Yet challenges remain to obtaining herd immunity. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in April found that 13% of Americans indicated that they would not get the vaccine.
New strains of the virus have hampered efforts to reopen schools. A more contagious coronavirus strain originating in India appears to be slightly more resistant to vaccines and has begun spreading across the United States.
“What we know is that overall, our cases and deaths are going down across the country, so these vaccines work,” Davis said. “Science will continue to do what science does, which is make adjustments where necessary.”
Ihsaan Fanusie is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @IFanusie.
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