It would not be a surprise if schools start to require that children get vaccinations for COVID-19, much as they do for diseases like smallpox or mumps if the pandemic does not fade away, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.
"That might actually occur," Fauci, who is also President Joe Biden's chief adviser on COVID, told "CBS This Morning." "That is not the situation right now but I could imagine as we get further into this and we see where we're going with this outbreak, whether or not it's going to be essentially with us for a considerable period of time, I would not be surprised."
Fauci added that mandated shots for children are not now a policy, and he didn't "want anyone to get confused by what I'm saying."
"What I am saying is I would not be surprised that in the future this is something that would be seriously considered, depending upon how we handle the outbreak," said Fauci. "If we completely crush this and it stays away and there's very little activity at all, which I hope happens. Right now that's not happening but if it does happen, then I don't think you require that. But if we go into this year and the next year and we see we still have a problem with this, it very well might be required."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has currently only agreed to emergency use of the vaccines for people ages 12 and older, but both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech launched trials for children under the age of 12 in March. NBC News reports that results are expected this fall, but it will still take the FBI extra time to review the drug companies' applications for use.
Fauci also discussed new guidance by the American Association of Pediatrics that recommends all children over the age of 2 wear masks when they return to school, a recommendation that conflicts with the CDC's advice that vaccinated students do not need masks.
Fauci said he'd recommend that parents follow what their local schools decide, but called the AAP's guidelines an "extra step of caution."
"The reason for what the academy did was because of the high degree of infection dynamics that we're seeing," said Fauci. "If you look at the map of the country right now there's an uptick in cases in virtually all the states in the United States and for that reason, they want to go the extra mile to make sure the children are protected in school."
Meanwhile, with only about half of the country fully vaccinated, Fauci said the government is now concentrating on people who are reluctant to get their shots.
"Those are the people getting infected," said Fauci. "The striking statistic that people should pay attention to (is that) 99.5% of all the deaths due to COVID-19 are among unvaccinated people. That's a striking statistic so when people are unvaccinated and they look at that, hopefully, they'll really take a look at that and say that for my own safety and that of the community it's very important to get vaccinated."
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