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Study shows 66% of school-age kids do not have COVID-19 immunity

With schools returning to 100% in-person learning this month, some doctors said the results of a statewide antibody study show why masks are still necessary.

HOUSTON — A statewide survey shows most school-age kids have no immunity against COVID-19 going into the new school year.

Investigators with the Texas Coronavirus Antibody Response Survey, also called Texas CARES, have been working to find out how many people have COVID-19 antibodies. The body produces antibodies after getting infected with the virus or getting the vaccine.

Since September, more than 12,000 Texans have gotten antibody blood tests for the study. There are about 500 school-age participants in the survey, and 66% have no protection against the virus as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.

RELATED: 'This is going to accelerate very rapidly' | Houston doctor urges vaccinations as Delta variant surges nationwide

“Kids will probably get this Delta variant. They probably won’t have too big of problems – a runny nose, taste loss or smelling loss or fatigued – but none of those are life-threatening. What is life-threatening is if they go home and someone is immunocompromised, and they pass it to them,” said Dr. Steven Kelder, a professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin.

He says it's critical for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they are eligible.

Until children under 12 years old can get the shots, the CDC recommends everyone in schools wear masks.