Children and teens fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t need to wear masks or practice social aloofness during summer camp, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in recommendations released Friday.
This year marks a return to the popular American tradition – day camps as well as sleep camps – as nearly all summer camps paused in 2020 due to the pandemic, with at least 60 permanently closed.
However, young people who have not received their injections are advised to continue to wear face covers.
Currently, only children 12 and older are eligible for a vaccine, which means that younger children will come to summer camp unvaccinated.
Clinical studies of vaccines for children under 12 are currently underway.
The guidelines are a change from previous guidelines disclosed by the CDC, which require masks and at least 1 meter distance for nearly all activities.
Children will be returning to summer camp soon, and the CDC has released new guidelines for running the camps safely. Camps where all are vaccinated will go back to normal for the most part, although guidelines for camps with unvaccinated people are a bit vague
In camps where not all people have been vaccinated, vaccinated people are not required to wear masks, but unvaccinated people are ‘strongly encouraged’ to use masks and practice social distance for indoor activities.
However, the guidelines for outdoor activities are unclear and leave discretion to the camp itself.
“Generally, people don’t have to wear masks outside,” said Erin Sauber-Schatz, head of the CDC’s Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force. NBC.
This also applies to unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people because of the very low risk of outside transmission.
“Even though it’s really safe outside, there are still important times when you need to wear a mask if you’re not fully vaccinated.”
She does not consider what those ‘key times’ are, which makes the term open to interpretation.
In camps with unvaccinated children, it is recommended to use masks and social distances indoors. Outside, the instructions are more vague and leave matters to the counselor’s interpretation
When collected in large groups, the CDC recommends masking children and keeping them at least three feet apart when not vaccinated, even outside.
During activities where they are more dispersed, such as playing a sport, it is okay to take off their mask, a change from the original guidelines.
The CDC also recommends not wearing masks during activities that use water, as a wet mask can make it difficult for a child to breathe.
“I think camps need a little more support and information,” said Dr. Richard Besser, former director of the CDC.
“If CDC can get more specific, it would be helpful.”
Besser and other health experts believe that the vagueness of the outdoor guidelines can prove dangerous, as some camp instructors may not take enough precautions to protect children, even when trying to follow the guidelines.
The guidelines are not binding and ultimately camps only have to adhere to the laws of the state in which they operate.
However, many camp counselors are likely to take the CDC’s guidelines into account when organizing activities this summer.
Last month, the CDC was accused of being “ draconian ” with the initial guidelines, prompting them to reconsider and revise the guidelines.
The original guidelines recommended removing masks only when children participated in activities involving water, such as swimming.
At the time those guidelines were released, the vaccine was not yet approved for Americans under the age of 16.
At least 600,000 children have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and the first group of children to be vaccinated will likely receive their second dose in the coming weeks, data from the CDC shows.
Children are responsible for nearly four million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March 2020, but make up only 0.1 percent of all deaths.
While their risk of death or other complications is significantly lower than others, they can still become vectors in an outbreak.
The camps also have more people on site than just children, and many adults work in the camp who are at risk of complications from the virus.