Nancy Jecker Examines Morality, Unvaccinated Children, and Masks

Child and parent both wearing face masks

Nancy Jecker, Professor of Bioethics and Humanities, discusses if parents and unvaccinated children should continue to wear masks.

Fully vaccinated adults are celebrating their new freedom and removing their face masks. Yet for parents of children under age 12, the rejoicing might be short-lived.

Since children that age do not yet have access to vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they are better off staying masked when in public and around people they don’t live with.

Now what? Do “good parents” keep their child’s face shield on at playgrounds, barbecues and play dates, teaching health and safety above all? Or do they “let kids be kids” and tell their child it’s OK to take the mask off? What if a child’s circle includes unvaccinated people at high risk of serious disease? With summer fast approaching, parents of youngsters must face these questions head-on. 

As a moral philosopher and bioethicist, I analyze ethical dilemmas, and lately I’ve thought a lot about ethical dilemmas raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve also written about a little-known field – ethics and the family – which asks what parents owe their children, what children owe their parents, and what spouses owe each other. There are a few tools in my ethics toolkit that might help with the mask question.

Read the entire article on The Conversation: “I’m fully vaccinated – should I keep wearing a mask for my unvaccinated child?

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