The rise and spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and vaccines currently being limited to those 12 and older is causing experts to sound the alarm and warn that now is a dangerous time of the pandemic for children.
The country has had “a substantial increase” in the number of children who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and with kids headed back to the classroom in just a few weeks, coupled with eligible adults choosing not to get vaccinated, and not practicing proper safety precautions, an expert tells CNN that kids are potentially in danger.
"We have the more contagious Delta variant, we have surges and we have so many adults letting down their guard, not wearing masks, not getting vaccinated," Dr. Leana Wen says. "That's contributing to this really dangerous environment for children."
Health experts stress the best defense against the virus and to stop and slow infections (especially in children under 12) is for eligible individuals to get vaccinated.
(Find out where to get your free COVID-19 vaccine, here or search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you in the U.S.)
In order to make a return to the classroom safer, Dr. Wen tells CNN that parents should ensure their child is wearing a three-ply surgical mask (not a cloth face covering) while in the classroom, and ideally, there should be improved ventilation in shared school spaces, along with vaccinated teachers and staff and routine testing.
She notes that social distancing in classrooms will likely not be possible at most schools, and stresses, "Putting all that together is how we can get kids back in school safely."
This week, President Biden called on those who have not been vaccinated to seriously consider getting their shots in order to help better protect those who are not eligible like children under 12, saying, "I also understand that the reason children are becoming infected is because, in most cases, they live in low-vaccination rate states and communities and they're getting it from unvaccinated adults. That's what's happening. And so my plea is that for those not vaccinated, think about it."