Should the Masks Come Off in Schools? Here's What Boston Doctors Say

"The numbers are getting better. I feel very encouraged but we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we are ready for the next possible challenge in the future," said Dr. Assoumou

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As coronavirus metrics continue trending in the right direction, the Boston Public Health Commission voted Tuesday to lift masking requirements in most indoor places beginning on Saturday.

Despite lifting restrictions in many places, the new rules do not yet apply to Boston Public Schools. During NBC10 Boston's weekly "COVID Q&A" series, two top Boston doctors discussed the issue regarding masks in school.

Brigham and Women's Hospital's Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes said the new information from Pfizer about the effectiveness of its vaccine for kids under 12 is one reason to hold off on lifting school mask mandates.

"Even if you got an 80% vaccination rate in your elementary and middle school populations, if those vaccines are less effective than we thought, then maybe we should take a pause and reconsider how low we want to see infection rate in the community before we relax the mask mandates," Kuritzkes said.

Boston Medical Center's Dr. Sabrina Assoumou agreed. She said she was "disappointed to see the results" of the Pfizer vaccine on children ages 5 to 11 regarding infection rates. A study published Monday showed Pfizer's two-dose COVID-19 vaccine provided very little protection for children under 11 during the wave of omicron infection in New York.

Both Kuritzkes and Assoumou agreed that the results showing a lower protection against infection was because of the low dosage given to children.

"It is likely that they will go back and study higher doses and see how those do... Kids who got an initial round of vaccination may end up getting boosted sometime later with a higher dose and they will get higher protection," Kuritzkes said.

Both doctors stressed that children should continue masking on school buses because of the crowds and because the federal transportation mask mandate is still in effect.

"They are more crowded on the bus than they are in the classroom," Kuritzkes said. "Even as some mask mandates are being relaxed, the requirements for masking on public transportation are still in place... people should still be masked for the time being."

Even as the school mask conversation continues, both doctors say the city is headed in the right direction but urged everyone to continue getting vaccinated.

"The numbers are getting better. I feel very encouraged, but we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we are ready for the next possible challenge in the future," Assoumou said.

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