With no vaccine for kids under 12, risk elevates for maskless children

girl with mask
Posted at 10:34 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 23:29:13-04

COVID-19 vaccinations in Ohio have been approved for children aged 12 and up and while a study is underway for children under 12, a vaccine for them may not be available until the fall.

In the meantime states, businesses and locations nationwide have begun dropping mask mandates, despite children under the age of 12 still remaining vulnerable.

Although the virus has typically hit younger populations with milder symptoms, Dr. Mary Carol Burkhardt with Cincinnati Children's Hospital said it's important for those kids to still wear masks.

"Anytime children are around people who are not in their immediate household, there continues to be risk there," said Burkhardt. "I would recommend if they are playing with kids in the neighborhood or families mixed together, even if they are outside, the safest thing to do if they are in close proximity would be to wear the mask."

Some school districts, like Mason City Schools, have made mask-wearing optional for staff and visitors, while Cincinnati Public Schools still require masks.

At the Cincinnati Zoo, masking rules have been relaxed for those who have had the vaccine -- it's only required in human-animal contact areas.

Megan Mears and her daughter decided to continue to wear theirs.

"In case we wanted to go inside, or in case it was overly crowded in some of the kids areas," said Mears.

Other visitors at the zoo were happy to shed the layer of fabric.

"For us, we feel confident when you're outside, especially when you're getting a lot of fresh air."

Burkhardt still recommends parents exercise caution with their unvaccinated children, both so they don't risk falling ill and so they don't risk carrying the virus to others who are unvaccinated.

"No vaccine is truly 100% so it is possible that somebody would have COVID but have very mild symptoms or be asymptomatic with COVID and could still transmit the virus in those cases," she said. "I think that's why, especially for instance in the healthcare community, even though we are vaccinated and we are still wearing masks."

As for immunity developed by those who have already had the virus, Burkhardt said the vaccine should still be taken by those who have recovered in the past, because the immunity provided by the vaccine is still stronger.