The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a new set of guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated. To help you understand how these new guidelines impact your family, we asked infectious disease specialist Dr. Alexandra Yonts some questions.

Do children need to wear masks to play together outdoors if their parents are vaccinated?

Children over the age of 2 should still continue to wear masks if they will be in close contact (less than 6 feet apart) with other children or unvaccinated adults, even if they are outdoors. This also applies to children during youth sporting events and practices, especially if they are participating in sports in which they are unable to stay 6 feet away from other players, either during the game or on the sidelines.

Parental vaccination decreases, but does not fully eliminate, the chances that parents will spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to their children. Additionally, children can still catch the virus from other unvaccinated individuals (adults and other children) that they may meet, and potentially develop COVID-19. Children are also more likely to spread the virus (compared to vaccinated adults) given the fact that they themselves have not yet been able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Do children need to wear masks to see their vaccinated grandparents outdoors?
Is it safe for vaccinated grandparents to remove their masks during an outdoor visit with their unvaccinated grandkids?

Healthy, asymptomatic children do not necessarily need to wear masks when visiting their fully vaccinated grandparents outdoors. CDC guidelines state that it is safe for fully vaccinated individuals to gather with healthy, low risk unvaccinated people of any age (including children) from a single household without masks or physical distancing. It is worth noting that these guidelines apply to both indoor and outdoor settings. Children with symptoms of any potentially contagious infectious disease (fever, runny nose, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, etc.) should continue to mask and maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from other individuals, even outdoors.

Are kids more protected from COVID if their parents and grandparents are vaccinated?

Early studies of the Pfizer, Moderna and Astra-Zeneca vaccines have shown that vaccination against COVID-19 also decreases the chances of spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19). Since parents and grandparents are the adults that have the most contact with their child, vaccination of these primary caregivers will decrease the chances that SARS-CoV-2 is brought into the home and potentially spread to their child. Parental vaccination does NOT protect the child from exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus from other individuals in the community who may not be vaccinated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Yonts Alexandra Brugler Yonts, MD, is an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's National and is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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