The best way to protect kids against coronavirus, if they are not yet eligible to get a vaccine, is to have the people around them be fully vaccinated and wearing masksas they head back to school, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH and top adviser to President Joe Biden appeared on the “Today” show and “CBS This Morning” and spoke about the balance that must be struck in order to keep kids safely engaged with in-person learning as the country sees a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
“It’s really a delicate balance because we’ve known from the experience that we’ve had over the last, now, year-and-a-half, that keeping children physically out of class … has really considerable deleterious effects on them from the standpoint of mental health, social development, a variety of other things,” Fauci told “Today.”
In order to keep them in school, adults have to do whatever they can to “keep them safe,” the infectious disease doctor said.
“What that really means, in my mind and in the mind of the public health officials, is the first thing you do is that you surround them with people who are vaccinated,” he said. “And that’s the reason why we want the teachers to get vaccinated, we want the personnel at the school to get vaccinated, and we want children who are eligible because of their age to get vaccinated.”
Currently, only children aged 12 and older are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fauci told “CBS This Morning” the NIH has been doing studies with pharmaceutical companies, looking at the safety and ability of vaccines to induce the appropriate response in children younger than 12, and he hopes a recommendation for getting younger kids vaccinated will be made in a “reasonable period of time,” potentially this fall.
Until then, the recommendation is to surround unvaccinated children with people who are vaccinated.
It’s also why Fauci said he wants to see masks in schools for “everyone” regardless of their vaccination status.
“We’ve got to balance things,” he said. “And that’s the reason why we feel strongly we should be masking people to protect the children.”
In his latest round of appearances, Fauci also discussed why he believes members of the general public are not yet in need of a booster shot of the vaccine, and why the CDC is now urging pregnant women to get vaccinated.
Watch his full appearances below:
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