On October 1, 2021, the CDC issued its weekly “Morbidity and Mortality” report and noted according to a July 1 – September 4, 2021 study that “[s]chool mask requirements, in combination with other prevention strategies, including COVID-19 vaccination, are critical to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools.” The study analyzed “differences between county-level pediatric COVID-19 case rates in schools with and without school mask requirements.” Based on its analysis of 520 counties, the CDC concluded that the 322 counties without mask requirements experienced larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 cases than those schools with mask mandates.

The CDC concluded with the report finding: “The results of this analysis indicate that increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates during the start of the 2021-22 school year were smaller in U.S. counties with school mask requirements than in those without school mask requirements.” As such, it continued to recommend that schools require universal indoor mask use for students, staff members, and others in school settings.

On October 7, 2021, Pfizer announced in a tweet that it officially submitted an emergency use authorization request with the FDA to make COVID-19 vaccines available for children aged five through eleven. At the time of this writing, the FDA has not made a determination on that application, however, it will be evaluated at a meeting of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on October 26, 2021.

This news regarding potential availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for younger children comes on the heels of data from Johns Hopkins University finding that 2021 has already surpassed 2020 for total COVID-19 deaths of 353,000, versus 352,000 recorded in all of 2020.

Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers will continue to provide relevant updates for healthcare providers on the Health Law Pulse during the COVID-19 public health crisis.