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Protecting Children who aren’t Eligible to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine

July 21, 2021

Today, the Wolf Administration outlined strategies to protect children who are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and important tips to ensure everyone has a happy, healthy summer.

“We must remain vigilant and continue working together to prevent further spread of COVID-19 between children and families,” said Meg Snead, acting secretary for the Department of Human Services, in a statement.

The state’s public health officials urged the remaining eligible Pennsylvanians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect those who are not yet eligible. The COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in people 12 and older.

While the state has lifted its universal masking mandate outside of health care settings, everyone should feel empowered to wear masks in spaces where there is a higher risk of transmission, Snead said.

The Department of Health emphasized the following public health recommendations for children between ages 2 and 12:

  • Wearing a face covering in public settings, at events and gatherings, and around people outside of your household
  • Focus on lower-risk activities, such as outdoor activities with members of your household, or small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated friends and family
  • Outdoor activities are safer for gatherings between unvaccinated children from multiple households
  • Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Using proper coughing and sneezing etiquette
  • Staying home if you are unvaccinated and sick with, tested positive for, or were recently exposed to COVID-19
  • Continuing routine doctor appointments and vaccine visits
  • Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should isolate and be evaluated, regardless of vaccination status

“We’re encouraging everyone, especially parents of young children, to consider getting vaccinated,” Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said in a statement. “We have the power to stop the spread of this virus and keep ourselves, our children, friends, and family safe by getting vaccinated.”

This week, the American AcadeKids play on playground wearing masks during COVID-19 pandemicmy of Pediatrics updated its recommendations as students and staff prepare to head back to school next month. The organization is recommending all eligible people receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and that all students 2 and older and school staff wear masks.

During a Senate committee hearing yesterday, Rochelle Walensky, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the agency is recommending a “layered approach” to back-to-school public health strategies. This includes vaccinating eligible individuals and collaboration with local public health officials to understand the spread of the virus in their respective communities. During the press briefing, Dr. Johnson recommended schools—at a minimum—follow guidance from the CDC.

“Schools are always welcome to have stricter guidance than the CDC, but we believe that they should at least follow the guidance of the CDC,” she said.

HAP will continue to monitor the latest developments and recommendations and provide updates to members. Today’s press conference and the current COVID-19 guidelines can be found online.