Protecting the most vulnerable
With COVID cases surging, particularly in parts of the South and Midwest, I am concerned about children under age 12 who do not yet qualify for a vaccine. Certainly, unvaccinated parents could spread the virus to their young children, and unvaccinated children could transmit the illness to immediate and extended family. Now that the CDC has said that there is a risk of SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infection among fully vaccinated people in areas with high community transmission, should we worry about unvaccinated young children with vaccinated parents? I recently spoke with James C. Fagin, MD, a board-certified pediatrician and immunologist, to get his views on this issue.
Dr. Fagin, who is retired, said he is in complete agreement with the Food and Drug Administration when it comes to approving medications for children. However, given the seriousness of the pandemic and the need to get our children back to in-person learning, he would like to see the approval process safely expedited. Large numbers of unvaccinated people increase the pool for the Delta variant and could increase the likelihood of a new variant that is more resistant to the vaccines, said Dr. Fagin, former chief of academic pediatrics at North Shore University Hospital and a former faculty member in the allergy/immunology division of Cohen Children’s Medical Center, both in New York.
Meanwhile, I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations that children, teachers, and school staff and other adults in school settings should wear masks regardless of vaccination status. Kids adjust well to masks – as my grandchildren and their friends have.
The bottom line is that we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated as soon as possible, and while doing so, we must continue to wear face coverings in public spaces. As clinicians, we have a special responsibility to do all that we can to change minds – and behaviors.
Dr. London is a practicing psychiatrist who has been a newspaper columnist for 35 years, specializing in and writing about short-term therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and guided imagery. He is author of “Find Freedom Fast” (New York: Kettlehole Publishing, 2019). He has no conflicts of interest.