With COVID Cases Rising, Is Mass. Doing Enough to Protect Kids?

“I know it’s the conversation that everyone in Massachusetts wants to have right now,” Democratic State Rep. Marjorie Decker said.

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COVID cases are on the rise as we get closer and closer to the first day of school and some Massachusetts lawmakers are wondering if the state is doing enough to protect our unvaccinated kids.

“I think we need to have a more transparent conversation,” said Democratic State Rep. Marjorie Decker.

With only weeks to go until her two kids head back to school, the Public Health Committee Chair says she’s got some concerns and she’s sure she’s not alone.

“I know it’s the conversation that everyone in Massachusetts wants to have right now,” she said.

9-year-old Daemo Gregorie-Cradick is one of the 250 kids ages 5 to 11 who are participating in a trial of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine at the Children’s Hospital Colorado. If the trial is successful, experts say vaccines for kids under 12 could be just months away.

During an oversight hearing Monday morning at the Museum of Science, Decker and her colleagues on Beacon Hill will hear from doctors, school nurses, public health advisors, and pharmaceutical representatives about how best to keep our young children safe as schools reopen.

“I think what’s hard for everyone is that, what was true four weeks ago, is slowly starting to change,” Decker said.

With COVID cases steadily increasing and the delta variant detected in some communities, Decker says the state needs to be prepared for a quick rollout when a vaccine is approved for kids under 12.

“We know that everything is really nimble right now, but I’m expecting somewhere in September, maybe mid-October,” she said about the timeline.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masking in schools, as many children are still unvaccinated and the vaccines have not yet been cleared for kids under 12. Spokesperson Dr. Jennifer Shu from the AAP explains why masks are still being recommended.

Meanwhile, with only half of the state’s eligible teenagers vaccinated right now, Decker's also questioning Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision not to impose any statewide COVID-19 guidelines for back to school.

“I have a lot of questions about are we doing everything we should be and are we providing the kind of statewide leadership this moment calls for,” Decker said.

The hearing is open to the public online. It starts at 11 a.m. Monday and can be viewed here.

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