We know that regular two-ply cotton cloth face masks are by far the best choice to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But some children might have a hard time keeping them in place. A face shield can be an added layer of protection, but on its own, is not a suitable alternative to a face mask. They’re meant to be worn in medical settings, and to protect the faces and eyes of doctors and nurses against contact with bodily fluids.
“[Face shields] are not a substitute at all for masks,” says Dr. Monica Gandhi, the associate division chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at UCSF/San Francisco General Hospital. “Because they have the side openings, you can expose others while you’re breathing out. There’s very little evidence that they help in transmission. The main places where respiratory viruses exit the body are the nose and mouth and those are the places you want to cover.”
That said, Ghandi notes that a plastic face shield is better than nothing. “Having a bare face is least desirable. Face masks are the best option,” she says. “But face shields are an option for people who can’t wear masks.”
Here are some options to consider.
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