Publish date:

As school sets to return, Mayo Clinic expert says get vaccinated or get COVID-19

Most kids in Minnesota will head back for in-person learning within a few weeks.

The delta variant of the coronavirus is so contagious that a specialist from the Mayo Clinic says kids who aren't vaccinated stand a good chance to contract COVID-19. 

The stark warning comes from Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Mayo Clinic Children's Center. She was asked why kids who are 12 and over should get the vaccine before returning to school for in-person learning. 

"We do want kids to return to school, we know all the benefits of going to school. But right now, with what's going on in our country and in our communities with delta variant spread, you're really making a choice between getting vaccinated or getting COVID-19. This delta variant is just that contagious," Dr. Rajapakse said

Kids under the age of 12 can't yet receive the vaccine, which is why Rajapakse and other health experts are urging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to help protect those children. 

"The most important thing we can do to protect kids under 12 years of age who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated themselves is to ensure that as many people who are around them and who are interacting with them are vaccinated," Dr. Rajapakse said. "Anyone over 12 years of age should be getting their vaccine, both to protect themselves, but also to protect people who are not yet eligible, such as children under 12 years of age."

The CDC changed its guidance last month to encourage everyone over the age of 2 to wear a mask in schools, regardless of vaccination status. It's up to each district in Minnesota to enforce mask mandates because Gov. Tim Walz relinquished his peacetime emergency powers earlier this summer.

Minneapolis Public Schools will mandate masks when students return; Rochester Public Schools is mandating masks for children ages 2-12; St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard will introduce a resolution requiring masks for all children ages 2 and older, staff and visitors during Tuesday's board meeting. The resolution will then be voted on during next week's board meeting. 

Of Minnesota's approximately 5.7 million residents, 57.5% have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 54.3% have completed the vaccine series, according to the state health department

Statewide, 44% of kids ages 12-16 have had at least one shot, compared to 54% of kids aged 16-17, according to the data. 

The nation's top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, believes vaccine mandates are now necessary to help stop the delta variant, with the issue becoming more urgent as kids are set to return to classrooms. 

“The time has come,” said Fauci, speaking as a guest on NBC's Meet the Press. “We’ve got to go the extra step to get people vaccinated. You want to persuade them, that’s good … but for those who do not want, I believe mandates at the local level need to be done.”

Coronavirus cases rose 40% in the U.S. in the past week, while COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped 36% over the same period. 

The push comes as coronavirus cases in the United States rose 40 percent in the past week, while covid-related hospitalizations rose 36 percent in the same period, the Washington Post reports

Next Up

Lakeville South

May bomb threat at south metro school traced to Lakeville area kid

Months of investigation led to the digital footprint of the juvenile.

WIkimedia Commons - Frey April 20, 2021

Frey backs creation of Dept. of Public Safety, removal of police staffing minimums

He is in favor of removing police staffing minimums from the city charter – which this November's ballot question would also do.

Foreman tl - Flug-Presley tr - Sturm bl - Pettus br - Go Fund Me and Facebook

St. Paul PD takes over quadruple killing probe after it emerged they died in Minnesota

A "thorough investigation" reveled where the four Minnesotans were killed.

superior national forest

Highway 1 reopens as Greenwood Fire is 80% contained

The highway has been closed for about a month.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, September 20

Data in Monday reports includes the past Friday, not the weekend. Weekend data is released on Tuesdays.


Driver killed in ATV rollover crash north of Alexandria

The crash occurred in Douglas County Sunday evening.


covid, schools

Unvaccinated students, staff urged to take COVID-19 test 'at least once a week'

The recommendation is for students and staff, regardless of symptoms.

teacher, covid, masks, school

As start of school approaches, Osterholm urges parents to buy high-quality masks

Dr. Michael Osterholm is worried that some districts aren't properly prepared.

Pexels - mother child mask covid

Closely watching pediatric COVID-19 cases as delta spreads in MN

The state has not yet seen a massive surge in pediatric cases.

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

MN up to 45 counties with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission

Delta is leading to more cases – and more severe cases – involving children in other states.

Gov. Tim Walz

As Delta variant spreads, Walz discusses masking, emergencies, and back-to-school

Vaccination rates vary across the state, but many counties are under 50%.

Wikimedia Commons - COVID vaccine, pfizer, shot - Martin G

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is effective in kids ages 5-11

The company plans to seek U.S. authorization for the age group soon.

Albert Lea High School

Albert Lea COVID-19 outbreak: 36 students test positive, 290 quarantined

The outbreak happened within the first week back to school.