Vaccines approved for children aged 12 and up, mask rules relaxed
On May 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded its emergency use authorization for the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include youth ages 12 to 15. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed suit on May 12 and endorsed the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for the age group. The vaccine was previously approved for those ages 16 and up.

Though children and adolescents typically have milder cases compared to adults, it was a critical step in further fighting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting student and families.

“This official CDC action opens vaccination to approximately 17 million adolescents in the United States and strengthens our nation’s efforts to protect even more people from the effects of COVID-19,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

The CDC announced on May 13 that fully vaccinated individuals (those two weeks out from their last required dose) could stop social distancing and wearing masks indoors and outdoors except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial law or rules or regulations like workplace guidelines or those set by businesses. In a May 15 update, the CDC clarified that schools should maintain recommended COVID-19 “layered mitigation strategies,” including masks, through at least the remainder of the 2020–21 school year.

On May 17, state health officials suggested that fully vaccinated Californians can stop wearing masks effective June 15 when the economy is expected to reopen. As of this writing, they had not provided additional guidance as to what masking measures will be in place in educational or extracurricular settings.