Like anyone who has taken the pandemic seriously and overthrew their lives to prevent them from getting or spreading COVID-19, I am extremely excited to be able to get my life back on track.
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new and much freer set of guidelines for people fully vaccinated against COVID. Anyone who is two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can return to both indoor and outdoor activities in most settings. This is great and very welcome news, although I’ve gotten used to lip-syncing with Dua Lipa during my errands, and I’ll probably just keep doing it even if everyone can see me now.
As a pediatrician my work life will still be masked for now as health care facilities are one of the exceptions to lifting masks for vaccinated people. One of these days I hope I can make my patients smile again. But I like to do everything I can to make sure those patients are safe.
However, thinking about those patients gives me one of my limited reservations about these new guidelines. While the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in patients 12 and older (and I’ve pulled it out every time I’ve seen patients that age this week), it’s not clear when a vaccine will be approved for younger children. than that. I am encouraged to know that studies are underway in patients as young as six months old, but it is too early to know when the green light will come.
Which means that in the meantime, many of my patients and children across the country have to remain masked.
I have found that, in general, children have adapted very well to wearing masks, and that children are resilient little people. But I suspect it can be hard for many to hear that they have to keep wearing them if the adults can stop in their lives. Although the risk of serious illness from COVID in children is generally low, low is not the same as none, and serious cases in younger patients are very real. Another variation that can affect younger people more seriously is another option. Protecting children remains extremely important.
I suspect that as my fully vaccinated husband and I get out and about with our children more, we will continue to mask so that our sincere children feel supported. (Anyone who considers it a good idea to confront us with signaling virtue is welcome to see how that works out for them.)
My other big concern about the coming mask-free days is that these guidelines depend on unvaccinated people to keep masking and talking about that status. As companies figure out how they will adapt to this whole new world, knowing that they can count on customers to be honest would go a long way in making plans that ensure the safety of everyone.
But if you believe that the same people who think Naomi Wolf understands vaccines well will cough up the truth to a maître d ‘before sitting in a restaurant, please speak to me about a hot new diamond mine purchase opportunity. There are already warnings from law enforcement about the circulation of fake vaccination cards, and at least one man has recently been arrested for allegedly selling such fake cards to people who liked to pretend they were vaccinated.
I am, like everyone else, desperate to flood my life with all the joy I had to vape last year. There’s a dance floor with my name on it, and I’ll probably burst into tears when I can finally sing along under a disco ball to all the songs Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga gave us last year. I want it so bad it hurts. I am delighted that there are new guidelines that will bring us all so much closer to the things we would like to have again.
I just hope that my patients, like children across the country, will be able to keep doing what they have to do until the time comes when I can finally vaccinate them too. And that there should be no toll just yet on the dishonesty of people who have not bothered to do their part during the pandemic.