Protect children from COVID-19 as they go back to school: An open letter to parents

As a mother, I know that we would do anything to protect our children and
give them a safe, happy school year.

As a physician, I’m confident that one of the best ways to achieve that
goal is to vaccinate and boost our children against COVID-19.

After living with the pandemic for two and a half years, we’re finally
able to send our children back to school well protected from this

Safe, effective vaccines are available for all ages, including booster
doses for our school-aged children (five years and older). That’s something
to celebrate — and utilize.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC) recently announced guidelines indicating that we’re in a different
phase of the pandemic. The virus remains present and highly contagious, but
we have tools to help prevent severe infection and death, including
vaccinations, treatments, and immunity from prior infections.

This new phase of the pandemic is why masking is no longer required for
many schools, except in the case of exposure, and why quarantines are only
necessary for those with confirmed COVID-19 infections. This is welcome
news to many of us and will hopefully help create a more normal school

But the truth is that without masks, the vaccine is the only way we can
truly protect our children.

Community rates of COVID-19 remain high, with the CDC reporting more than
90,000 new cases a day across the United States. The real number, if you
include at-home test results, is likely to be much larger.

The virus is still actively spreading around us, even as schools move
forward with limited COVID-19 requirements. Our vaccinated children are
well protected from severe disease and death, and safe to return to a more
normal school year. But we can’t underestimate this aggressive, rapidly
changing virus and the risks it can pose for those who aren’t vaccinated.

My family, including my two school-aged daughters, is fully vaccinated and
boosted — and we’ve all had COVID-19. I’m so grateful that we experienced
the disease after vaccination, as one of my children suffers from asthma
and the vaccine successfully prevented severe symptoms and hospitalization.

I talk to many parents who still have important questions about the safety
and value of vaccinating their children against COVID-19. I’m so glad we’re
having these conversations, and I encourage you to share any questions you
may have with your own doctor or neighborhood pharmacist.

I was so confident in the data that I stood in line with my own daughters
for two hours — in the bitter cold! — to get them the vaccine on the first
day it was available for their age group.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Children should get vaccinated — and boosted, if eligible — even if
they’ve already had COVID-19.

Reinfection is common among respiratory viruses, and we should expect our
children to face COVID-19 again.

If children had a mild case — as many do — then they may not have developed
enough of an immune response to get broad protection.

We know the immunity granted from recovery wanes over time. And,
unfortunately, COVID-19 is mutating so rapidly that the neutralizing
antibodies gained from fighting last year’s variant may not be helpful
against the next version.

We’ve learned a lot about this virus, but we don’t know what to expect next
— and I want our children to be protected from whatever that may be.

While the original vaccine doses remain effective in preventing the most
severe illnesses, the protection against mild to moderate disease does fade
over time. Receiving a booster shot now will provide increased protections
against infection, including the latest variant and long COVID.

The COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot are safe and effective for
children ages six months and up.

The clinical trials were extremely robust, and the FDA authorization
process was rigorous. The COVID-19 shots continue to be the most closely
monitored vaccines ever administered in the United States.

We can’t take COVID-19 lightly.
This is a virus with the potential for far-reaching complications and
effects on every single organ in your body, including the nervous system
and respiratory system. Across the United States and around the world,
children are suffering from long COVID, hospitalized with severe cases and
even dying. Now is not the time to completely let down your guard. While
the world wants to return to normal, the only way we and our children can
do that safely is with the protection of the vaccine.

It’s a new school year, and it’s time to give our children the freedom to
learn, play and enjoy being a kid. Let’s also give them the tools to fight
the virus when it shows up.

Together, we can beat COVID-19 — and anything else that comes our way.

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