CDC eases summer camp Covid guidance, says fully vaccinated teens don’t need masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday relaxed their public health guidelines for summer camps, stating that fully vaccinated teens do not need to wear face masks or stay three feet away from others.

Fully vaccinated teens should continue to wear masks when necessary, including at local businesses and in the workplace, according to the CDC. Camps can support staff or campers who continue to wear a mask even if they are vaccinated, the agency added.

While unvaccinated adolescents should continue to wear masks, the CDC said they generally do not need to wear masks outdoors unless they are in a “significant to high transmission” area, in a crowded environment, or during activities that involve continued close contact with others.

The CDC’s new guide is approaching Memorial Day holiday weekend, the start of the summer vacation and camping season for many Americans.

On Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky advised House lawmakers that the agency is revising its public health guidelines for summer camps to include vaccinated adolescents. Walensky approved expanded use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in 12 to 15 year olds two weeks ago.

As of Thursday, more than 165 million Americans 12 and older had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, according to the CDC. According to the CDC, more than 132 million Americans 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Previous CDC guidelines recommended that all children wear masks, regardless of vaccination, with some exceptions for certain activities such as eating, drinking, or swimming. It has been criticized by some public health experts and parents who say the risk of spreading Covid outdoors is low and children are less likely to develop serious illnesses.

“My whole goal is to make sure the camps stay open and there are no outbreaks,” Walensky said during the hearing. She added that her own children didn’t go to camp last summer. “I want the camps to be open this summer.”

The guidance also comes two weeks after the CDC said fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 6 feet away in most environments, whether outdoors or indoors. People who were not vaccinated should continue to wear masks, the agency said, as they continue to be at risk of mild or serious illness, death, and the risk of the disease spreading to others.

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