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I'm fully vaccinated, my kids are not. What should I do about masks?

We talked with molecular epidemiologist, Dr. Jill Roberts, at USF Health to give you some insight into what the latest CDC guidelines mean for you as a parent.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's been a few days since the CDC announced fully vaccinated people can take off their masks in most places.     

But what does that mean if you have young children who are not vaccinated?

CDC guidance on this isn't specific on this topic but it says unvaccinated people are those of all ages, including children, that have not completed a vaccination series. 

We talked with Dr. Jill Roberts at USF Health about this. She says the latest guidance does not change anything for kids. They still need to be wearing masks since they cannot get vaccinated and could potentially be exposed to the virus by someone who is neither vaccinated nor wearing a mask. 

"If people were following the CDC guidelines which says you can take the mask off if you're fully vaccinated, that would be one thing, but they're not. Everyone is just kind of saying, ok I'm done with the masks, I'm just going to go out," Dr. Roberts explained.

She says we still don't know if we're detecting infections in kids or not. Meaning they could be getting infected and spreading the virus all while being asymptomatic. 

"So, the concern being that they get missed in the count numbers and they're still able to spread the virus, we don't know for sure that that's true all, that again is just theory," Dr. Roberts said. "What we do know is true is there are some kids that have gotten seriously sick from coronavirus, so it's not a risk that I'd be willing to take as a parent." 

She suggests keeping your mask on as a parent and definitely doing so if you have a child who is immunocompromised.

"If a kid, for example, is high risk, maybe they've got asthma or some other health conditions, you definitely don't want to take them out into these environments because as I said there's no masks being worn so the virus can definitely be spread again," Dr. Roberts said.

Dr. Roberts adds there are clinical trials taking place right now with kids two and older. She thinks it'll be September, or so, when that age group can get a shot. 

In the meantime, she says to call ahead to events and venues to see what kind of safety guidelines they have in place and whether they are continuing to have people wear masks. 

"As parents, we really have to be careful with our own kids, as a public health professional as well what I'm going to be doing is watching the data. I'm really curious to see where the cases are and I can use that data to guide my decisions for example," Dr. Roberts said. "I may be able to see which places have a high number of cases and maybe that's not the best place for us to go if we're going to travel or vacation whatsoever."