Health Care

CDC director: Vaccinated adolescents can remove masks outdoors at summer camps

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday said that vaccinated adolescents will be able to remove their masks outdoors at summer camps and during other activities this summer.

Walensky was asked at a press briefing about CDC guidance issued last week to limit the spread of the coronavirus at summer camps. The guidance recommends that children wear masks at summer camps except when eating, drinking and swimming, even outdoors.

The director noted that if U.S. health officials authorize a COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds and the adolescents get vaccinated before attending a summer camp, “that’s what I would advocate for so that they can take their masks off outdoors.”

“What we’re really trying to avoid in this camp guidance is what we saw in outbreaks in camps last summer,” Walensky told reporters.  

“So if you have five 10-year-olds who are on a soccer field, all in front of the same soccer ball, we’re trying to make sure that there are not a lot of heavy breathing around a singular soccer ball with five kids around it at the same time,” she added 

Walensky noted that the guidelines for children under the age of 12 allow for kids to take off face masks when outdoors in small groups and other exceptions.

“What we really are trying to do is ensure that all of these kids can have a really good camp experience and keep the camps open without any outbreaks,” she said.

The guidance released last week for summer camps recommended that children be at least 3 feet apart from each other most of the time. Six feet of social distancing is still recommended while children are eating and drinking.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, this week defended the guidelines, but acknowledged during an interview with NBC’s “Today” that they are “a bit stringent.” 

“The CDC makes decisions based on science, they will continually reevaluate that. You’re right, it looks a bit strict, a bit stringent, but that’s the reason why they keep looking at that and trying to reevaluate literally in real time whether or not that’s the practical way to go,” Fauci told “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie. 

Fauci also said Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration is likely to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents as young as 12 years old “within several days.”

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus COVID-19 Rochelle Walensky Summer Camps

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