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Back to School and Vaccinations for Children

“Back to school” had a very different meaning this year. As many of us have been completely displaced from our everyday routines, the biggest shock has most likely been felt by k-12 students. At a time in life when routine is key and building healthy habits is more important than ever, these kids have had to deal with the unexpected at every turn.

Now, as many children have returned to in-person classes, uncertainty is still a factor. Children, as well as parents and teachers, face high infection rates and other safety issues. The one thing that could make it right? Vaccination for children. This has left a lot of us wondering – where do we stand as a country when it comes to approving those shots for students.

Let’s take a look at the current situation, as well as what is expected. For starters, the CDC has released a statement saying that it officially recommends the covid vaccination for every eligible person over 12 years of age. They go on to suggest any children under age 12 wear a mask around anyone “they don’t live with.” The CDC also reminded parents that covid, while very important, is not the only vaccine that matters. Apparently, inoculations for other diseases went down last year, as a result of in-person schooling being put on hold. The CDC offers advice for remembering to get your child’s yearly shots and to catch up on any you may have missed.

The first big change came in May of this year. The FDA approved the emergency use authorization of its Covid vaccine for use on those 12-15 years of age. This set the scene for hope that the 2021 school year would be in-person and, hopefully, a return to normalcy. While fears remain and “in the United States, in-school transmission is higher in places with low adult vaccination and no mitigation…overall, schools have stayed open…It is going better than expected.” This is according to a medical expert in San Francisco. But others are optimistic as well, especially with new developments coming up that could increase safety even further.

On October 7, Pfizer announced that it was seeking emergency use authorization for their covid vaccine in children aged 5 to 11. A panel will meet on October 26 to discuss the authorization. If it is passed, children may start receiving the vaccine in a matter of weeks. There is one difference in the guidelines being released for this age group: the recommended dose has been increased to three shots.

The only question remains, will people take their children to get the shots? Earlier in the year, there was some concern over the low numbers of students getting vaccinated. In July, only 25% of eligible 12 to 15-year-olds had received their shots. The vaccine does not work unless it is taken, and this is on every health expert’s mind.

Generally, there is more cause for optimism than fear. The move back to school has been progressing more smoothly than we ever imagined. Parents are encouraged to follow up with vaccinations for every age group and to continue with distancing and mask requirements until those vaccinations are possible.

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