No face masks needed for fully vaccinated kids and academics? New update in the ongoing debate

Whether vaccinated folks ought to put on masks is a query for many, together with main well being companies. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

For the most recent information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

With the extremely contagious and lethal delta variant of the coronavirus on the rise, well being organizations are scrambling to find out if it is protected for fully vaccinated folks to cease sporting face masks indoors. New guidance launched Friday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says academics and college students who’re fully vaccinated can forgo masks.

The recommendation comes days after the CDC contradicted the advice from the World Health Organization that to dampen the unfold of COVID-19’s quickly spreading delta variant, everybody ought to proceed sporting face masks in crowded areas, even people who find themselves previous the two-week mark after receiving their second vaccine dose, for instance from Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca. 

The conflicting steerage comes as the delta variant continues to dominate new cases around the world — together with in the US, the place it is accountable for half of all circumstances in many components of the nation, President Joe Biden said Tuesday. 

Both the WHO and CDC agree that individuals who aren’t vaccinated ought to proceed to put on face masks. But given the excessive fee of safety that vaccinated folks have towards the delta variant and different COVID strains, why are some medical consultants in battle a few barrier over your nostril and mouth? Does the dispute come all the way down to authorized legal responsibility, politics or science? We proceed to update this story.

What is the new steerage for kids and academics?

For fully vaccinated academics and college students, the CDC says they not must put on masks inside the faculty constructing. However, those that aren’t vaccinated — ages 2 and up — must put on a masks whereas inside however do not must once they’re exterior. 

For little one care packages — relating to faculties with kids youthful than 12 — common masks use could be carried out as kids this age aren’t eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines but. Mask mandates can even go into impact if coronavirus transmission is excessive in that group.

For faculties that may’t present ample bodily distancing, the CDC says “layered COVID-19 prevention strategies” needs to be put in place to guard kids and academics who aren’t fully vaccinated.

Read extra: In-person learning should be a priority for schools this fall, CDC says

Why are consultants at odds over masks for vaccinated folks?

In June, WHO officers repeated a longstanding recommendation that everyone should wear masks to stem the unfold of the virus. Meanwhile, the CDC continues to uphold its steerage that fully vaccinated Americans not must put on masks indoors or preserve social distancing. Last week, White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that those that’ve had two doses of the vaccine ought to nonetheless “go the extra step” to put on a masks when touring to locations with low vaccination charges. 

Just a few days after the WHO beneficial that individuals who acquired the COVID-19 vaccine ought to proceed sporting a face masks, Fauci defined why the recommendation differs from the CDC’s. “There’s a reason for that,” he stated in a virtual White House press briefing. “The WHO is responsible for the planet as a whole. It’s different in the world in general from here in the United States.”

So, whereas the WHO is monitoring the pandemic round the world, with a majority of individuals unvaccinated, the CDC is commenting on the scenario in the US, the place the vaccines have been proven to work fairly successfully towards hospitalization from the delta variant. Only 11.6% of the world inhabitants is fully vaccinated, in accordance with vaccine tracker web site Our World in Data. The US practically quadruples that quantity: 47.7% of Americans are thought-about fully vaccinated as of July 4, in accordance with the Mayo Clinic. 

For Fauci and the CDC, the urgency is much less about sporting a face masks after vaccination and extra about getting a higher variety of Americans vaccinated in the first place. On July 4, Fauci stated that 99.2% of COVID-related deaths final month concerned unvaccinated folks. 


Dr. Anthony Fauci used knowledge in this slide to elucidate why variations in world and US vaccination charges resulted in two distinct mask-wearing suggestions.

PBS/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

What is the WHO’s place on masks sporting?

Wearing a masks persistently continues to be necessary, even for people who find themselves vaccinated, a WHO official said during a press briefing in late June. “People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves.”

Wearing masks in public locations is crucial to assist folks from inhaling particles that can trigger them to grow to be sick, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an American infectious illness epidemiologist, stated throughout that very same briefing.

While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are exhibiting robust protection against variants, “breakthrough” infections should still sporadically happen. In an early case in June, a fully vaccinated lady in Napa, California, died from COVID-19. She was over 65 and was reported to have underlying medical conditions.

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CDC guidance: Fully vaccinated can go maskless

The CDC’s current guidance on mask wearing remains the same for fully vaccinated people. The guidelines say those who are fully vaccinated can “resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing” except where required, such as in planes and businesses. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stuck to that guidance on NBC’s Today show on June 30, saying fully vaccinated people are protected from the delta variant.

Newly updated CDC guidance on Friday says fully vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside the school. It goes on to say preventative measures at the school shouldn’t exclude students from in-person learning and that “safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.”

The CDC warned CNN that there’s still a small chance fully vaccinated people can become infected with the new variant if they’re exposed. We’ve asked the CDC for comment.

Why is the coronavirus delta variant serious?

The delta variant is the latest of new coronavirus variants and is the most contagious of the variants identified so far, according to the WHO. The delta variant has been identified in 85 countries so far and is spreading among the unvaccinated population, the organization said during the press conference.

“The delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Fauci said during a White House press briefing on June 22.


Some countries are returning to lockdowns to curb the spread.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Will there be new mask mandates or stricter restrictions?

Some countries have already begun tightening COVID-19 restrictions. For instance, four cities across Australia have returned to lockdown, including Sydney’s state of New South Wales. In the US, Los Angeles County is strongly recommending face masks indoors, regardless of whether someone has been vaccinated, though masks aren’t required in most places. Some countries within Africa and Asia — for instance, South Africa and Malaysia — have also moved into lockdown due to the delta variant spreading.

Some places never loosened mask mandates, such as airports and airlines. In the US, other public transportation facilities require masks, such as buses and trains.

For more information, here’s what you need to know about “long COVID” and how it’s treated. Also, read up on these COVID-19 vaccine side effects and important dos and don’ts for getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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