All children — vaccinated or not — should wear masks this fall, AAP says

The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending in-person learning, COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible and universal masking for everyone older than age 2 this fall, according to updated guidance for the 2021-22 school year.

The AAP recommends all students and teachers wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. The AAP's mask recommendation differed from the CDC, which said July 9 that fully vaccinated individuals don't need to wear masks at schools. However, following AAP's update, the CDC said, "If your child is 2 years and older, make sure your child wears a mask in public settings."

AAP recommends universal masking because a large portion of students aren't yet eligible for vaccines, and masking is proven to reduce virus transmission and protect unvaccinated individuals.  

Research has shown that opening schools isn't typically linked with significant increases in community transmission if masking and other safety measures are in place. Given the effectiveness of safety precautions when used consistently, children are at higher risk of suffering mental health issues and developmental setbacks if they miss in-school learning, the AAP said.

According to the AAP, more than 4 million American children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic started. For the week ending July 8, children accounted for nearly a quarter of all new reported COVID-19 cases.

The AAP amplified the CDC's guidelines for building ventilation, testing, quarantining, cleaning and disinfection.

On July 19, the Health Action Alliance launched a new effort to help working parents vaccinate eligible children against COVID-19 and catch up on other routine immunizations. The effort is championed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and more than two dozen other organizations.


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