As kids head back to the classroom for personal school this year, concerns about rising cases of pediatric coronaviruses are mounting. Doctors are pushing for masks and vaccines to help reduce the spread of the virus.
“We all still believe that it is best for the children to go to school. We’re not saying you shouldn’t send the kids to school. We all want them to go to school. We don’t want them to be in virtual situations,” said Dr Nectar Aintablian, a pediatrician in Tallahassee.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that distance learning has been detrimental to the mental health and education of many children. But doctors urge caution. Aintablian says the Delta variant of the coronavirus is highly contagious. She compares it to the flu.
“The contagiousness of flu is that if one infected person exposes a room with uninfected and unimmunized patients who are not wearing masks, two others are infected by one person. So our value for flu is two. The Delta variant our value is seven. Seven people will become infected out of 10 uninfected people if they are exposed. It’s so contagious,’ Aintablian said.
And doctors say as the Delta variant spreads, they’re seeing more intense effects for kids.
“In the past 2 months alone, we have seen more cases than in the previous five months combined. They tend to be sicker and need more help and more media therapy,” said Dr. Thomas Truman, a pediatric intensive care unit specialist.
Truman says he is also concerned about the potential for more cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome that sometimes affects children after they recover from the coronavirus. He says it’s common in children between the ages of 5 and 12. Truman says the disease affects multiple systems, including the lungs and heart.
“That’s the most worrisome complication. We’ve seen some of those life-threatening infections even after the first wave. And unfortunately, we expect a major spike in those cases in the next few months as this Delta variant rampages through the community,” Truman said.
Truman says anyone who can do that should get vaccinated. But that is not an option for all students, especially younger children. So, he says, universal masking in schools is essential.
“With the high percentage of positivity in our community, the fact that it’s a more virulent, more likely to make you sicker, and it affects kids more, I don’t know how you can make a decision other than masking to keep the kids.” safer and physically present at school,” Truman says.
Truman says other mitigation efforts, such as good hand hygiene, are also an important part of reducing the spread of the virus.
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