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VDH answers questions about latest guidance for kids & COVID

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:04 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Kids have returned to the classroom, hospital admissions are the highest they’ve ever been, and we’ve got some new guidance when it comes to kids, vaccines, masks, and generally how to handle COVID.

The FDA and CDC have approved boosters five months after a second dose for kids 12 and older. They’re also recommending a booster for kids five and up, if immunocompromised.

“And I know that we in the state are going to be rapidly rolling that in as part of that because of the recent case numbers in terms of this kind of surge,” said Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of the Richmond City District . “I mean...we would want to rapidly roll it out anyway just to protect them.”

Viray said the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated are too small to have statistics on.

As for kids under five, there is a glimmer of hope in the last 24 hours. Dr. Anthony Fauci says Pfizer may have a vaccine ready for kids in this age group in the next month or so, CNBC reports. It would likely involve a three-shot series and would still need FDA and CDC approval.

“So while the tests are short and the surge is happening, what can parents actually do to protect their kids?” NBC12′s Sarah Bloom asked.

“Go ahead and get that boost,” said Viray. “Go ahead and get that vaccine. First and foremost, we definitely need to.”

Bloom asked how health officials expect young children to appropriately stick to strict mask guidelines in recovering from COVID, and what masks actually work for kids.

“I think it’s two things,” said Viray. “First, is that what’s most important is that the mask be well-fitted and it have multiple layers. So, I think the medical mask versus... the surgical mask, versus a cloth mask with multiple layers, whichever one fits better and can be worn throughout the day is going to be more important...It becomes something that they become used to wearing and become used to seeing given an exposure and given time. So, it takes a little bit of patience and repetition. But I think it is one of the things that we can do over time to kind of train our kids, or to help our kids to protect themselves; kind of like we teach them to wash their hands.”

Bloom also asked Viray whether parents should switch to medical masks versus cloth because of Omicron. She said the ability to wear the mask is most important. Though, some evidence indicates cloth masks may not offer as much protection with fewer layers.

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