Lifting Of Island Mask Order Tied To Youth Vax

Lifting Nantucket’s indoor mask order is tied to the FDA’s approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, Nantucket Health Department Director Roberto Santamaria told the Select Board this week.

While the island’s summer outbreak of COVID-19 cases has ebbed, the Board of Health opted to keep the indoor mask mandate in place during its meeting earlier this month.

On Wednesday, Santamaria tied rescinding the mask order to the expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to younger children.

“Once we are able to roll out youth doses and we are able to get the bulk of the youth vaccinated, you will be seeing us, most likely, lifting mask mandates and going back to relative normality,” Santamaria said.

By the end of this month, Pfizer is expected to seek FDA authorization to make its COVID-19 vaccine available to children ages 5 to 11. That could mean children in that age bracket could potentially begin to receive shots by Halloween.

Any state mandates, including the indoor mask order for public schools, will likely remain in place, he added.

The island’s seven-day test positivity rate has dropped to 3.76 percent, while the most recent wastewater sampling for the virus indicates Nantucket should be down to roughly one new case per day. Over the past week (Sept. 15 to Sept. 22), Nantucket Cottage Hospital reported no new hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

“We’re in surprisingly good shape,” Santamaria said.

The town has begun providing booster vaccine shots to those who are immunocompromised, and is expecting to scale back its ongoing vaccine clinic at the Nantucket Public Schools administrative office to one day per week, rather than twice-weekly, in October. 

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