Dr. Farber’s Coronavirus 38 update


Just a quick update on the vaccine for younger children, and masks.

Approval for the vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years hit a snag this week. It is not a question of safety, but effectiveness. There is no point in giving the vaccine if it is not going to be useful, even if it is safe. I do not see the FDA/CDC rushing to approve it until we have sufficient documentation. Once it has been shown to be of value, I will be recommending it, even though the virus is slowing down, and mild. There are two main reasons for this. The first is an everyday practical one. A child with COVID, even if not particularly ill, needs to be in isolation, and can spread the disease to other family members. This can cause major disruptions, as well as having the potential for more serious illnesses. Preventing this is of value. The second reason is that we do not know what the next variant will yield. If it is going to cause major illness, I would like children to be vaccinated ahead of time, rather than having to scrounge around for a vaccine when we are in crisis mode.

The other issue I will be discussing is that of masking. I expect mask mandates to be illegal in this state, even at the local school level, with appeals denied. (I would at least hope that an exception would be made for health care facilities, such as our office). Given how mild the omicron variant is, and how rapidly the numbers are dropping, this is not unreasonable at this time. (For comparison, we have never had mask mandates during flu seasons, and the coronavirus situation AT THIS TIME is better than a typical severe flu season). The bigger concern for me is putting the genie back in the bottle if a more deadly variant comes along. With a law on the books, the legislature will be unwilling to overturn it when mandates become essential again.

Masks will not be illegal however. Even though fully vaccinated, I still wear mine when I go shopping. I intend to do so until the numbers drop a great deal further, and perhaps not even then (I am in a high-risk group). For school, I still feel in-person learning is superior. Thus, if the choice comes down to (as I think it will) in-person with being vaccinated and masking for oneself, even if others are not, versus on-line, I recommend the former, given the current level of virus activity.

As always, please do your part to protect yourself and others.