BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A number of Vermont medical groups are calling for the state to do more to protect children who are too young to be vaccinated from COVID-19.
At least five groups, including the Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital, are calling for measures that include universal masking in schools until children under age 12 become eligible to be vaccinated.
Currently the Agency of Education is recommending schools require masks for the first 10 days of school. After that any school where 80% of students eligible for the vaccine have received it, vaccinated students and staff could remove their masks.
But children under age 12 are not eligible for vaccination. It’s unclear when any of the COVID-19 vaccines will be approved for children under age 12.
The Burlington Free Press reports that Rebecca Bell, director of pediatric critical care at UVM Children’s Hospital, said they support the idea of requiring universal masking at the beginning of the school year.
“We urge continued universal masking regardless of vaccination status or school vaccination rate for students and staff until those under 12 years of age have had the opportunity to be vaccinated and when epidemiologic data tells us it is safe to remove masks,” a number of the medical groups said in an Aug. 31 letter.
Secretary of Education Dan French has said the masking guidelines are recommendations, but most districts have chosen to implement the recommendations.
On Thursday the Vermont Department of Health reported 145 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to almost 28,550.
There were 29 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state, including eight in intensive care.
The state is reporting a total of 279 fatalities from COVID-19.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 105.29 new cases per day on Aug. 17 to 149.14 new cases per day on Aug. 31.
The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.