Dr. Anthony Fauci has become a household name as families stay tuned for news about the coronavirus pandemic. But comments in the news from the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases may not answer the questions kids have about COVID-19.
So kids' news podcast "The Ten News" held a town hall this week, sharing an episode in which Dr. Fauci responded to questions from kids about the virus and discussed when the world will seem to go back to normal.
In addition to sharing that he's a dog person, not a cat person, and talking about what it was like to throw a pitch at a Washington Nationals baseball game, Fauci, who has three daughters of his own, offered patient and sweet advice to kids who shared their biggest worries on the podcast.
What exactly is your job?
The 79-year-old explained that his "big job" is to direct the NIAID, which is responsible for researching all infectious diseases.
Fauci is also a member of the White House coronavirus task force.
"That's the reason you see me on TV a lot," he said. "I get out there and talk about the public health measures that we need to do to stay safe and avoid infection."
If everyone stayed home for two weeks, would COVID go away?
Fauci said it's unlikely.
"It likely would decrease COVID, but I don't think two weeks is enough to have COVID just disappear," he said. "Right now, it's very, very prevalent in the United States."
What will help the problem, Fauci explained, is abiding by safety measures like mask-wearing, hand-washing and avoiding large crowds.
"Except when you're with family," he added, "that's OK, but you don't want to have big parties and social gatherings right now."
Someone in my class got coronavirus. Even though I wore a mask, will I get it?
"If you wore your mask faithfully every day, the chances of you getting corona because you were exposed to someone is low, so I wouldn't worry about it," Fauci answered. "But, it is not zero, and that's the reason why you have to quarantine."
Can pets carry coronavirus?
Fauci said there are rare incidents of cats and other domestic animals being able to carry coronavirus. However, the chance of catching the virus from a pet is low.
"We don't want children to be worried that their pets are going to be dangerous to them," Fauci answered. "So don't worry about it, you can give your pet a big hug."
When are kids going to be able to get the COVID vaccine?
Before kids get vaccinated, Fauci said it's important to be absolutely sure the vaccine is safe for "vulnerable populations."
"Two of the most important vulnerable populations that we want to take extra special care of are children and pregnant women," he said, explaining it will take some time to monitor adults who are currently receiving the vaccine before it will be deemed safe for kids and expectant moms. "I think a few months from now children will likely be able to get vaccinated."
If I have an allergy, will I still be able to get the COVID vaccine?
Fauci said some adults who have a tendency to have allergic reactions to vaccines have had reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. While that doesn't mean people with a history of allergic reactions can't get vaccinated, it does mean "extra special" precautions will need to be taken.
"You'll be in a place where if you do get an allergic reaction, you have somebody there that knows how to treat it," he said.
If I already got COVID and I'm feeling better, do I have to get the vaccine?
"The answer is yes," Fauci said. "The reason the answer is yes is that we don't know how long following infection you are protected against reinfection. So just to make doubly certain you're protected ... you should actually get a vaccine."
I do not like shots.
"I don't think anybody really likes shots," said Fauci. "But I've gotten a lot of shots in my day and I can tell you that at the worst, it's a little pinch. You'll see when you get vaccinated that you're going to say the following: 'Wow, that wasn't that bad.'"
How long until everyone has the vaccine and everyone goes back to normal? And when can I start having sleepovers again?
Fauci said it all depends on how many people decide to get the vaccine.
"That's why we're encouraging everyone to get vaccinated," he explained. "It's going to take several months to get the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated, and then once that happens, I believe we can think in terms of getting people together for things like sleepovers and things like that."
Will we stay immune for life after we get vaccinated?
Fauci said he isn't sure how long the vaccine will last.
"It is conceivable that we'll have to get booster shots," he said. "We'll have to wait and see."
"The Ten News" host Bethany Van Delft closed the town hall by asking Fauci what message he'd like to send to kids about the pandemic.
"Don't get discouraged," Fauci said. "Things are going to get better. They're going to get back to normal, you're going to be able to play with your friends, you're going to be able to go to school without worrying about it, you're going to have parties and have fun. This will end, I promise you."
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