Public health officials continue to encourage people to wear face masks to combat the surging novel coronavirus delta variant. So do the same rules apply to children?

Calls for face masks

There’s been a renewed call for face masks amid the pandemic as cases of the delta variant continue to surge around the world. For example, the World Health Organization said fully vaccinated people should wear face masks in public spaces to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Similarly, Los Angeles County called on residents to wear face masks in public spaces — no matter the vaccination status — to stop the spread of the virus.

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However, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on the “Today” show Wednesday morning that fully vaccinated people don’t need to worry about the variants overall.

  • “If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States,” she said.
  • She added, “Masking policies are not to protect the vaccinated, they’re to protect the unvaccinated.”

Should children wear face masks?

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN on Wednesday that face masks shouldn’t be ruled out for children.

  • “I would say right now, if your kids are old enough to wear masks, then they should when they’re indoors, at least until we can get our arms around this delta variant,” he said.
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But protocols depend on your region. For example, Hotez said children are safer in places like the Northwest, where there are lower cases of the delta variant and higher vaccination rates.

  • “This requires parents and really anyone to have some situational awareness of what their region looks like, what their state looks like, what their county looks like in terms of vaccination rates and delta variants,” Hotez said.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN something similar — children and families should make decisions for themselves based on the risk in their area.

  • “I think it’s very reasonable for parents who are living with kids who are unvaccinated, or for that matter, other family members who are unvaccinated, to consider wearing a mask if they’re in a high risk area or if their job requires a high degree of exposure,” he told CNN.