As a primary care physician on the front line, I have witnessed tremendous disability and death due to COVID. I have grieved with mourning family members and spouses – watching their lives be uprooted due to a preventable infection. I have counseled worried peers and colleagues as their children start school. And I worry about my school-aged niece and nephew.
I stand strongly beside my pediatrics colleagues in asking America to reconsider its position on vaccination and masks. Evidence-based measures need to be implemented to prevent COVID spread among our children. The only proven strategies to prevent infections is by wearing masks indoors and at large gatherings, paired with vaccination for all eligible persons.
The facts about COVID are the following:
1. Cases of COVID-19 are exponentially increasing across our communities and states.
2. COVID infection can be prevented by wearing masks.
4. COVID can cause severe illness in children, especially those who remain unvaccinated or under-vaccinated due to age (less than 12 years) and/or pre-existing illness.
5. Children are getting sick from COVID – 15 percent of COVID cases in the week of August 5, 2021, were pediatric cases.
6. Wearing masks is recommended for all students over 2 years old and all school staff.
7. Wearing masks does not impede the development of children.
The use of masks and vaccination for eligible students and school staff is in all children’s best interest, especially for those who remain unvaccinated or under-vaccinated (due to reasons mentioned above).
Twenty years from now, when our children ask, “What did you do to protect us from COVID-19?” It will be a reflective moment.
We can create a legacy of ensuring the health of millions of innocent children. We hold the power to safeguard our children by encouraging vaccination of all eligible persons and wearing masks indoors to prevent spread.
This pandemic needs to end. And, it can end.
Yet in order for that to happen, we need to look beyond ourselves and act selflessly for our children.
Ankita Sagar is an internal medicine physician.
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