coronavirus

CDC Is Working on New Covid Guidance for Summer Camps Now That Teens Can Get Vaccine, Director Says

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  • The CDC is revising its public health guidance for summer camps to account for vaccinated teens, Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told House lawmakers.
  • Walensky cleared the expanded use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds two weeks ago.
  • "My whole goal is to make sure camps can remain open and that outbreaks don't occur," Walensky said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is revising its public health guidance for summer camps to account for vaccinated teens, Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told House lawmakers Wednesday.

Walensky, who testified on the agency's annual budget before a House subcommittee, cleared the expanded use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds two weeks ago.

"My whole goal is to make sure camps can remain open and that outbreaks don't occur," Walensky said during the hearing. She added that her own children did not go to camps last summer. "I want camps to be open this summer."

The U.S. agency's guidance currently recommends that all campers, staff and visitors use well-fitting face masks with proper filtration consistently and correctly to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Exceptions for wearing a mask include certain activities like eating, drinking or swimming, according to the agency. The current guidance doesn't recommend fully vaccinated kids go without masks.

The guidance comes even as the CDC says fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 6 feet away from others in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors. Unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks, the agency said, as they remain at risk of mild or severe illness, death and risk of spreading the disease to others.

The CDC's current guidance on summer camps has been criticized by some public health experts and parents who say the risk of spreading Covid is low in outdoor settings and kids have a lower risk of severe illness.

During the hearing, Walensky told lawmakers that the agency is working to update its guidance as quickly as possible, as new information on the virus comes in constantly.

"This is complex. Things that we knew a year ago are different now because we have much more information and they continue to evolve," she said. "I understand the challenge."

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