Return to school sees Covid-19 cases rise in children, but there are more tools to keep kids safe this year

New cases reported among children in the last week of August were 14% higher than two weeks earlier. according to the data Tracked by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They took another leap in the South, where classes are held for weeks. In contrast, overall cases of all ages decreased by approximately 17% over the same timeframe.

Experts say this increase in infections is to be expected, but getting children to school should be a priority and there aren’t enough ways to make sure it’s done safely. Currently there is.

“Every school year we see infections spreading, and it was a well-known phenomenon long before Covid,” said Sean O’Leary, chair of the Pediatric Society’s Infectious Diseases Committee. said Dr. “The good news is that with this pandemic, we are in a very different situation than two years ago, or even last year, in terms of the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated.”

In November, Covid-19 vaccine eligibility was expanded from 5 to 11 years old, making it the first school year in which all school-age children are eligible for the first series.

Still, child immunization rates lag behind and have changed little in recent years. About 61% of children aged 12-17 and only 31% of children aged 5-11 received the first series, compared with about 77% of adults. according to the data From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Children ages 5 and up are eligible for Booster Shots, but only those ages 12 and up get the latest version. And so far, only about 10% of her children aged 5 to 17 have had the booster.

Grace Lee, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and chair of the CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Board, said the slow rollout of vaccines for children means pediatric cases became more common in the last school year. He said that was part of the reason why

In 2020, the virus spread less among children as most were homeschooled.

assessment A study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 9-year-olds’ math and reading test scores plummeted after the pandemic. There has also been a sharp increase in adolescent mental health emergency room visits.

“We needed the children to come directly back to study. is,” says Lee. He said. “Part of the reason for the spike in case rates in pediatrics is that they were the last population to be vaccinated.”

But now, a combination of vaccination and infection is building greater herd immunity.

Post-pandemic, student test scores plummeted in math and reading, new assessment finds
Four out of five children in the United States have had Covid-19 at some point. according to the estimate From the CDC based on the presence of antibodies in blood samples. This is a significant increase from her late 2021, when it was estimated that 45% of his children had Covid-19.

That doesn’t mean we should ignore the possibility of Covid spreading in schools, experts say. It was still the top 10 cause of child death last year, and there is too much uncertainty about what will happen next.

“We have now been infected, vaccinated, infected, vaccinated. Where is this season going? said Lee.

Last year, the CDC updated its guidance for schools to prioritize in-person learning while maintaining multi-layered prevention strategies such as masking, physical distancing, and vaccinations for those who qualify. Last month, the guidance was again updated to remove recommendations for programs requiring negative tests to stay in the classroom or limit children to one classroom or cohort.

Mask requirements have also decreased across the county.

But while the CDC and others are more generally focused on preventing serious illness from Covid-19, experts say there are still benefits to avoiding infection, especially for school children. increase.

“We really need to take a life course approach with our children,” Lee said, thinking about the short-term and long-term implications.

In the short term, Covid-19 infection will “completely disrupt family life, school life and personal life,” she said.

“Every time someone gets sick, whether it’s Covid or the flu or something else, they’re lagging behind more and more,” she said. become unfair” and disparities widen.

Children can also have Covid for a long time and are a direct long-term risk of infection.And if enough teachers get sick, the indirect risk from the early stages of school closures will resurface. There is likely to be.

As a parent herself, Lee recommends that children continue to wear masks in school and stay up to date with eligible vaccines.

“I think kids have been the most adaptable during the pandemic, so I’m not too worried about that part,” Lee said.

“My hope is that schools will be safe and equitable places to continue learning and support children no matter what happens.”


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