Things have been moving since my last update. COVID-19 is still out there, of course, but the country’s weekly cases and death rate are finally back down to where they were in October. (To put that in perspective, we are still seeing over 300,000 new cases each week, and around 5000 deaths per week). We still need to be sensible and wear masks in stores and try to socially distance, wash hands well, etc., but we can be more liberal about socializing, especially if all the adults have been immunized. Thus, if the adults are immunized and healthy, visiting family such as grandparents can be back on, even if it involves a flight, in my opinion (but there are no 100% guarantees, of course). I’ll be travelling myself later this month (but I personally am still holding off on indoor dining and movies).
I have been all in favor of going back to school, and look forward to camps with outdoor activities being open this summer. The number of cases of children getting sick remains quite low, in particular for severe illness, and when they do catch COVID, it is almost always from family members, not classmates. Beach vacations should also be fine; social distancing is not that hard on a beach, although it may mean being back a bit from the shore.
The big news is vaccinations, of course. These have been game changers. Most people do not have side effects, and when they do, they are almost always minor. Even the ones that have been publicized, such as blood clots, are small in number; the risk of a serious COVID infection if you skip a shot is orders of magnitude larger.
Should 16-18 year olds be vaccinated? It’s not even close in my opinion. Wherever you can get this done, do so. We will be getting vaccines in our office very soon, and will start booking appointments. There may be some difficulty with the process as we roll it out at first, but please be patient as we work out the kinks. We are told there will be ample supplies, so watch our website for further updates.
The next group up will be 12-15 year olds, for whom I expect approval shortly. Again, I strongly encourage immunization for this cohort as well. I know that the physicians in the practice will be vaccinating their children this age. I would do so for mine, but they are older and fortunately have already been vaccinated.
One note about the vaccines: until we have more data, it is recommended that no other vaccines be given within two weeks of the COVID vaccine, so if your child is due for others as well, you will need to schedule separate visits for those. To lay out a time frame, if your twelve year old gets their required meningitis, tetanus and HPV vaccines on day 0, they would wait until day 14 for the COVID, then until day 35 (three week space between vaccines) for the second one, and then until day 49 if any more vaccines were needed. If you wanted to do the COVID first, we can adjust the schedule for that as well.
Get vaccinated if you can, stay safe, and have a great summer!