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NIH Director clarifies comment about parents wearing masks at home to protect unvaccinated kids

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins issued a tweet to “clarify” on Tuesday after making remarks during a CNN interview about mask wearing at home to protect unvaccinated kids from COVID-19.

Collins said in his statement that it is not necessary to use masks at home, but vaccinated parents in areas with high coronavirus transmission should use masks at public indoor locations to help lower risks to their unvaccinated children.

“Let me clarify the masking message that I garbled on @NewDay this morning. Vaccinated parents who live in communities with high COVID transmission rates should mask when out in public indoor settings to minimize risks to their unvaccinated kids. No need to mask at home,” he tweeted.

During a CNN interview on Tuesday Collins said that recommendations for children below the age of 12 are that they should avoid locations where they could contract the illness — he mentioned recommendations for masking at schools and said that at home people who have “unvaccinated kids should be thoughtful about this and the recommendation is to wear masks there as well. I know that’s uncomfortable, I know it seems weird, but it is the best way to protect your kids.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that vaccinated individuals wear masks at public indoor settings in regions of the nation with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.

Currently the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is allowed to be used in those 12 and older in the U.S., but no vaccine is available for those younger than 12.

The CDC says that kids 2 and older should wear masks in public venues.

“If your child is younger than 2 years or cannot wear a mask, limit visits with people who are not vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown and keep distance between your child and other people in public,” the CDC states.

During the CNN interview, Collins said regarding the Delta variant of the illness that, “It’s clear that this variant is capable of causing serious illness in children. You have heard those stories coming out of Louisiana pediatric ICUs where there are kids as young as a few months old who are sick from this. That is rare. Certainly younger people are less likely to fall ill,” he said.

“Again I don’t wanna overstate the confidence that we have about whether Delta is more dangerous to children. The balance has not been fully settled there but it’s tipping in that direction,” he said.

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