Fully vaccinated adults no longer need to wear masks in public, but what does that mean for children?

Two weeks ago, 12 to 15 year-olds became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, so most teens in that age group and younger are unvaccinated.

The good news is the coronavirus numbers are going down, so the risk to children and adults is decreasing.

What You Need To Know

  • Dr. Jana Shaw, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, said the risk of COVID-19 is decreasing

  • Dr. Shaw recommends children still continue to wear masks in public places, as most are not yet eligible for a vaccine

  • The most effective protection against the coronavirus is getting vaccinated, Dr. Shaw said

It’s important to remember that COVID-19 does affect children, according to Dr. Jana Shaw, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at SUNY Upstate. They mostly have asymptomatic or mild cases of the virus, but she has seen a few kids hospitalized.

Now that people are taking off their masks in public, it’s not necessary to leave your kids home when you're grocery shopping. She advises you continue to do the things we’ve learned over the last year — like social distancing, hand washing, and wearing a mask.

“Parents need to continue to protect their children," said Dr. Shaw. "If they are not fully vaccinated, children should wear a mask and avoid crowded places where unmasked individuals and unvaccinated may be present.”

A mask protects the person wearing it and the people around you, Dr. Shaw said. It stops droplets that are released when you talk, and it helps prevent you from inhaling droplets in the air around you.

The vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect against COVID-19, according to Dr. Shaw, whose three children have all gotten at least one vaccine dose at this point.

“I would never want to do anything that would harm my children I am really here to protect them," said Dr. Shaw. "I care for my children and patients and people around me. So if I vaccinate, what does it tell you about the importance of vaccinations, and how I feel about vaccines, how much I trust the vaccines and how confident that they are the best choice that I can make for my own children?”

The Pfizer vaccine could be available for anyone two and older as soon as this fall, according to the company's CEO.