North country pediatrician talks strategies for keeping kids safe while ineligible for COVID vaccine | Public Service News
WATER CITY — Amid the rise and height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, from March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021, approximately 1.5 million COVID-19 cases were reported in individuals ages 11 to 17 reported to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC extended emergency authorization for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to adolescents ages 12 to 15, so high-risk children ages 12 to 15 can now take this vaccine alongside other priority groups. .
“What I tell my patients who ask me questions like, ‘Are you going to vaccinate your own children?’ I say that when it is recommended by the CDC to do this, I will not hesitate,” said Samaritan pediatrician Dr. Joseph C. Gianfagna. “I tell them very simply, ‘I have not done this research, I I’m a pediatrician and I must trust, just like everyone else must trust the government agencies that make these rules,” and these are very thoroughly vetted points of view that they come up with.
“They are being studied to the end so that we are protected as a country and for me to say I know more than they know is just inaccurate,” he added. “If it is recommended, I will absolutely immunize my own children and recommend that people vaccinate their own children as soon as they are eligible for their age group.”
While COVID-19 is usually milder in children than adults, some children can become very ill and develop complications or long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being, and the virus can cause death in children – although this is rarer than in adults. Like adults, children can also transmit the coronavirus to others if they are infected, even if there are no symptoms.
Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock previously stated that the FDA’s extension of the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents ages 12 to 15 is an important step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic , helping to protect a younger population from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and ending the pandemic.
She said parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency has conducted a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as it has done with all of its emergency authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines.
Current safety and efficacy testing of the vaccines for children 2 years and older may lead to approval of one or more of the COVID-19 vaccines for younger children in the coming months. In the meantime, health organizations insist that it is important that children continue to receive all recommended childhood vaccines.
“There are still diseases out there, it hasn’t completely gone away, so it makes sense that as many people as possible get vaccinated,” said Dr. Gianfagna. “The first thing you can do to protect your children is get the vaccine yourself. If for any reason you are hesitant about the vaccine, discuss it with your own doctor and do not rely on information you see on social media or from other people whose information may not be as clear or accurate as it should be. ”
dr. Gianfagna said he and his colleagues see a problem with hesitation in some areas, especially among the adolescent population, because people have read information that may not be as accurate as it could be.
He continues to tell parents and patients if they are concerned to continue to follow the same strategies of proper hand washing, staying six feet apart, taking extra precautions to avoid sitting in large groups, cocooning, and all the other hygiene items everyone needs. has been going on for a year and a half.
When it was recently reported that 70% of New Yorkers had been vaccinated, the state lifted the restrictions. Now that schools are out, summer camps are starting and the state is beginning to return to a somewhat normal summer.
Still, parents of younger children are left wondering how to stay healthy and safe while they still need to be vaccinated.
dr. Kristen Navarette, an Albany-based pediatrician and medical director at MVP Health Care, has released four strategies to protect unvaccinated children: practice cocooning, frequent testing, continue to wear a mask, and stay in your pod.
Cocooning is a strategy to protect vulnerable populations who have not yet been vaccinated against infectious disease by surrounding them with people to help limit transmission and ensure the safety of families and vulnerable children.
Frequent testing has played a critical role in identifying community safety and risk factors. Testing now remains a vital part of safely reopening places such as schools and camps and easing fears for parents of young children across the country. While COVID-19 vaccines are effective, scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent the virus from spreading to others, even if a person has no symptoms. If a child has not yet been vaccinated, Dr. Navarette recommends that the child wear a mask when he goes somewhere.
In the past year, people have been creating COVID pods – a strategy for staying safe while socializing during the pandemic. If a family is in a pod, Dr. Navarette recommends spending time with only those individuals to help limit the spread of germs from person to person.
dr. Gianfagna has been a pediatrician at Samaritan Medical Center since 2013 and agrees with Dr. Navarette to protect children who are currently ineligible for the COVID vaccine.
He noted that whenever there is any doubt about the vaccination status or disease status of those around you, it still makes sense to wear masks whenever possible. It is generally recommended that children 2 years and older wear masks as this is usually not feasible in children under that age.
He made the point that COVID-19 is a virus and viruses are not static, they are dynamic and changing, which is why people get a flu shot every year – the flu vaccine we have this year is different from what we got last year. had years. While it may be true that COVID is currently being prevented by the vaccines available now, the same may not be true in December or January of next year, he said, when we may have waning immunity or new variants like the delta variant from India. who are not susceptible to these vaccines.
The way to reduce that is to follow the CDC’s advice and get a vaccine when it’s eligible, he said.
If a child is sick with something that resembles a respiratory infection there is really no way to tell if it is the common cold rhinovirus or COVID so if a child is sick parents are encouraged to seek medical attention and get tested even if they might not have done this in pre-pandemic times.
Don’t just assume it’s a cold, because there’s no way to find out without doing an actual test, said Dr. Gianfagna, because the symptoms so often overlap with other viruses.
“It still makes sense to be careful and not take unnecessary risks, and choose low-risk activities, especially in the summer when the temptation is high to get together and spend time with our friends,” said dr. Gianfagna. “We all experience pandemic fatigue, but it makes sense to remain as cautious as possible.”
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