Back to school: keeping kids safe from COVID

Posted at 11:57 AM, Aug 05, 2021

With school starting, experts are concerned that COVID-19 cases could rise among children.

While COVID vaccines are available to kids ages 12 and up, it’s not yet available to younger children.

Parents can protect young children against the disease by doing what has been shown to work well: masking and social distancing.

“Elementary school-aged children did an excellent job wearing their masks last school year,” said pediatrician Neal Davis, MD, medical director of pediatric community-based care for Intermountain Healthcare. “Masking minimized outbreaks and the challenges that come with them, including quarantines, missed school days, and the risk of infecting younger siblings and vulnerable family members.”

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been rising among Utah residents, including children. Children have been hospitalized with the disease, experienced long COVID lingering symptoms, and in some cases, contracted Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a severe inflammation of organs including the brain and heart that can result in death.

The CDC is recommending even vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public settings in areas of heightened transmission. While Utah law doesn’t allow schools to require students to wear masks, parents can choose to have their children wear masks to help keep them safe.

Here are some ways to protect young children against COVID-19:

  • Vaccinate eligible family members as soon as possible. Doing so can help ensure full immunity close to the time school starts, minimizing risk.
  • Wear masks in indoor public settings.
  • If you have questions about the vaccine, masking or related matters, ask your medical provider.

“Your family’s doctor knows you and your children, and is happy to have a conversation with you about your questions and concerns,” Dr. Davis said. “Your doctor can provide factual information to help you make an informed decision about the vaccine, and other steps you might take to keep yourself and your children safe.”

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