On Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters that children between the ages of 5 and 11 should still wear masks even if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as the White House announced its plan to vaccinate 28 million children.
“After we have authorization from the FDA and recommendations from CDC, we will be working to scale up pediatric vaccination. That said, it will take some time and as I just noted, as we head into these winter months, we know cannot be complacent,” Walensky said.
“We also know from previous data that schools that have had masks in place were three and a half times less likely to have school outbreaks requiring school closure,” she continued. “So right now we are going to continue to recommend masks in all schools for all people in those schools and we look forward to scaling up pediatric vaccination during this period of time.”
According to the New York Times, COVID data shows that “an unvaccinated child is at less risk of serious Covid illness than a vaccinated 70-year-old.”
“Nationwide statistics from England show an even larger age skew,” NYT Senior Writer David Leonhardt explained. “Children under 12…appear to be at less risk than vaccinated people in their 40s if not 30s.”
Also on Wednesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association, collectively representing more than 77,000 physicians and over 200 children’s hospitals, declared a “national emergency” over a “mental health crisis” among children.
“Young people have endured so much throughout this pandemic and while much of the attention is often placed on its physical health consequences, we cannot overlook the escalating mental health crisis facing our patients,” American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Lee Savio Beers said in a statement, according to ABC News. “Today’s declaration is an urgent call to policymakers at all levels of government — we must treat this mental health crisis like the emergency it is.”
The pediatric groups highlighted CDC research that found mental health-related emergencies jumped 24 percent for children aged 5 to 11 and 31 percent for children aged 12 to 17 from March to October 2020 when compared to 2019.
Suspected suicide attempt emergency department visits also increased a shocking 50.6 percent among girls aged 12 to 17 between February and March this year when compared to the same period in 2019, the CDC found.
Children’s hospitals across the United States have reported a “shocking” 45 percent jump in self-harm and suicide cases for children aged 5 to 17 when compared to 2019, Children’s Hospital Association President Amy Wimpey Knight explained.
“We are facing a significant national mental health crisis in our children and teens which requires urgent action,” Wimpey Knight warned in a statement.