The Delta variant is threatening to cause surges in some pockets of the U.S. and could disrupt back-to-school plans for fall of this year.
That's according to Dr. Paul Offit, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) director of the Vaccine Education Center and professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases.
Offit told Yahoo Finance Friday that he believes this year could be a repeat, in some areas, of last year with mitigation strategies required once again — especially if a vaccine is not yet authorized for the youngest of the population.
"I think the recommendation should be, come winter, that children should do what they did last winter and mask and social distance to the degree possible," Offit said.
Vaccines are currently authorized for children ages 12 and older, and trials are ongoing to test in younger groups.
But vaccinating all kids, who account for just over 20% of the U.S. population, is a key to reaching herd immunity, Offit said.
In the early days of the pandemic, kids were thought to be unlikely to get very sick or die from the virus because the protein on the surface of cells that the virus clings to in order to infect the body are less prevalent in kids.
While that has largely held true, there have been cases of children suffering from the virus.
"Children can suffer, can be hospitalized and can die from this virus," Offit said.
It's why in addition to unvaccinated pockets of America, kids could also be spreaders come the fall.
"This is a winter virus," Offit said. "Kids are going to go back to school, they're not likely to be masking, they're not likely to be social distancing, and I think you're going to see again an outbreak of this virus come late fall and winter."
That is, unless, more eligible teens and adults get vaccinated, he said.
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