COVID - What About The Kids?
Dr. Ekstrom & Mrs. Jadviga Bunkis baking up a storm!
Drs. Ekstrom and Bunkis are both working in Massachusetts this week, fully
recovered from a wonderful family week in California. As we covered last week,
Jessica Bunkis married Brendan Browne on Labor Day weekend and they are still
honeymooning in Italy. Dr. Bunkis’ 95 year old Mom and his sister flew in from
Canada and enjoyed an action packed week. Friends came from near and far. And
there was plenty of family time – one of our highlights being a visit by Dr.
Bunkis’ son, Justin, and grandchildren, Kinley and Colton – Mrs. Jadviga Bunkis’
great grandchildren! It brought to our forefront how special children are, and
that we have all been, still are, or have children, and are all special to
someone - and have people special to us.
This focus on family this past week leads us to think about children and to examine the effects of the COVID pandemic on children. The emphasis, when the pandemic began, was on older people. They seemed to be the ones getting ill, dying and creating the headlines. The word on the street was that children rarely got ill and, if they did, their illness would not be as severe as the one affecting their parents and grandparents. We have been covering the COVID pandemic in detail for the past year and a half and we know that for the large part, vaccinated adults are by and large relatively safe from contracting the virus, and if they do, their illness will be relatively mild. Where do we stand with children and COVID today?
COVID news regarding children under 12 years of age is extremely concerning. First of all, everyone 12 and older is eligible for COVID vaccines. Vaccine studies are underway for those under 12 years of age – efficacy and safety of the vaccine have not been determined and therefore, children under 12 are not eligible for any of the vaccines. Reports have surfaced that some parents have successfully gotten young children vaccinated under the so-called “off label” rule – if a drug has been approved by the FDA for one purpose, physicians are allowed to use it for a nonapproved indication, provided an informed consent has been obtained. But we feel that this practice for young children is simply not wise for the COVID vaccine. Young children are not just smaller adults and until someone can show us appropriate dosages, efficacy and safety, we would urge parents to resist having small children injected. Last year, with social distancing and virtual learning, was very difficult emotionally for many children and all of the experts agree that opening schools is very good for a child’s development. We believe that it is important to open schools for in-person learning as well but all states should follow California and Massachusetts example and require masks and as much social distancing as possible, frequent testing, and absolutely keeping home any child who exhibits any sign of illness. Unfortunately, not all states require masks or mandate vaccines for eligible students, teachers and support staff. Los Angeles became the first large city in the nation mandating vaccines for all who are eligible. But the problem, again, lies with the younger children and a huge spike in COVID cases has been seen amongst children as schools reopen. This past week alone, 252,000 children were diagnosed with coronavirus infection! We are finding children without preexisting conditions ending up in the hospitals and dying. More children are getting MIS-C, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare but serious condition in which different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs, often with fatal results. The best steps parents can take to protect their children is to take the everyday actions to prevent COVID infection, including getting everyone in the household 12 and up vaccinated, wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing. A new CDC study found that children living in states with low vaccination rates were three and a half times more likely to catch COVID infection. And unfortunately, the states with low vaccination rates are also states where masks are not encouraged. While at school, masks, social distancing and classroom ventilation can help protect kids! So come on, for those of you out there who are not vaccinated, please do it to help protect the kids!
Kinley and Colton Bunkis visiting their grandfather.
Get vaccinated! Encourage everyone over 12 to get
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