COVID UPDATE: Vaccinate Children and Changes in Mask Recommendations

May 17, 2021

Advice from the Allergy and Pulmonary Division of Allied Physicians Group

Drs. Raphael Strauss, Robyn Kreiner, Khalid Ahmad and Sara Sussman

 

Get your child vaccinated as soon as possible

Questions you may have regarding the need for vaccination:
Does COVID pose an actual risk to children?

While the risk of severe COVID in children is less common than in adults, it is not negligible.

Since the start of the pandemic, over 300 deaths in children under 18 have been attributed to COVID in the United States. For comparison, in the 1950s about 500 people a year died from measles.

As we know, this is an unusual virus and we are unable to reliably predict who will become very ill or hospitalized. Over 13,000 hospitalizations due to COVID have occurred in the 12-17-year-old group.

 

Why should children get the vaccine when most children only get mild illness?

 The greatest benefit of pediatric vaccination will be to interrupt transmission.  Vaccination stops transmission to others, protecting family, friends, teachers and more vulnerable members of the community. For comparison, you’ve already vaccinated your child for a disease that causes no harm to them: Rubella, which causes miscarriage and birth defects in unborn fetuses during pregnancy. Unvaccinated people provide fuel for this viral fire to keep spreading.

 

What about the long-term risks of this relatively new vaccine?

There are no vaccines that have caused verified long-term problems. Vaccine adverse events occur in the immediate post-vaccination period.  There have been hundreds of millions of people who safely received the vaccine over the past 6 months. In addition, researchers have been studying and working with mRNA technology for two decades. The current safety data analysis gives us a very clear indication that the benefits outweigh any foreseeable risks.

 

What if I choose to wait before vaccinating my child or myself?

The choice is NOT simply ”vaccine or no vaccine.“ If you choose not to vaccinate, then you are taking your chances with the actual virus, which has been shown to be unpredictable and deadly, sometimes resulting in long-term consequences (such as long-COVID). Vaccination in the pediatric age group benefits children while also protecting others around them who are vulnerable due to age or medical conditions.

 

The End of the Mask Mandate for Vaccinated Individuals

Why the sudden turnaround on the nationwide mask mandate?

This recommendation is based on data analysis and the consensus of health experts.

There has been an increasing number of good studies that show:

  1. Vaccinated people almost never get sick enough to get hospitalized; and
  2. Vaccinated people do not transmit the virus to others when they have no symptoms of illness.

NY state, among others, has not changed its policy yet. Individual businesses and homes may choose their own policy.

Doctors’ offices and hospitals will still require you to wear a mask. However, once you have been vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask outdoors or for indoor gatherings with other vaccinated people.

If the information changes based on new data about variants or community spread, the recommendations may change.

 

(Drs. Kreiner, Sussman, and Strauss are board-certified in Allergy & Immunology; Dr. Ahmad is a board-certified pediatric pulmonologist)