Healthcast: Pediatricians weigh in on safety for children after mask and vaccine policies change

Posted: May 26, 2021 / 04:31 PM EDT
/ Updated: May 26, 2021 / 04:32 PM EDT

FAMILY HEALTHCAST — It looks like there may soon be a second Coronavirus vaccine for older children. The Pfizer shots are already being given to children ages 12 to 15, and now Moderna is showing promising results for adolescents 12 and older.

However, families with young children still need to wait and be careful.

NewsChannel 9 spoke to several What’s Going Around pediatricians who say that although it may seem like the pandemic is over now that so many adults have been vaccinated, that’s not the case. 

The risk to those who haven’t had the vaccine remains. And children now make up a higher proportion of new COVID cases.

Pediatric infections represent 14 percent of the total since the beginning of the pandemic, but are now up to 24 percent of new weekly cases, with nearly 49,000 infections reported in the second week of May.

This is to be expected: As more adults become immune, the virus has fewer vulnerable people left to infect. In addition, the risk of hospitalization among the unvaccinated has more than doubled compared with January, likely because of more contagious and deadlier variants.

We now know that children have a very low risk of death or serious illness from COVID.

But now that mask mandates have ended in many states, children are increasingly being exposed to maskless, unvaccinated people in public places, further increasing their risk.

What can be done? Vaccination remains the single most important action to drive down the rate of infections. That includes vaccinating all children who are eligible.

Children younger than 12 will have to wait until the fall. In the meantime, your family’s individual risk tolerance will determine whether to socialize indoors with people who are unvaccinated, and whether to take them to the grocery store where mask policies are based on the honor system.

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