Opinion: What petrifies me about sending my kids to school this year

This new approach, aimed at those who are anti-science and anti-public health, leaves all of our children less safe. And it forces parents like me to make impossible decisions about whether to take risks with our children’s health in order to educate them and get us the child care we need to work.

While my husband and I raced to get our 1 and 3 year old daughters vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as they were eligible, I’m appalled that most other parents didn’t follow suit. As of July 27, only 4.7% of children aged 6 months to 4 years had received their first Covid vaccine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and only 30% of children aged 5 to 11 had received their two recommended doses. . The AAP, of course, recommends that children get vaccinated to protect them against serious illnesses.

But the decision of some parents not to vaccinate their children does not only put the health of their own family at risk. They also endanger everyone around them, including my own vaccinated daughters, who can still get breakthrough cases from their classmates.

Children under 5 are particularly vulnerable in these situations. Masks are not recommended for children under 2 (they could suffocate) and all of my daughter’s kindergarten kids take their masks off when eating and napping. So the best way to protect these children is for them all to be vaccinated, which reduces their risk of contracting Covid-19 and passing it on to others.

When a child brings Covid-19 to school, they can quickly infect many classmates who could then bring the infection home to their families. After my husband and I were informed that a classmate of my 3 year old had tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this year (before children under 5 were eligible for vaccines), my daughter and at least three other students in her class also tested positive within 24 hours. My daughter, of course, then infected her younger sister, my husband and me. I’m still traumatized by the memory of holding my 1 year old daughter whose fever was so high she felt like she was coming out of a furnace, even though we gave her Tylenol and Motrin 24 hours a day. 24. As a teacher, I was able to teach my classes online, but my husband, an emergency doctor, had to call in from work, leaving him unable to care for other Covid-19 patients.

I am outraged that I have to continue to experience episodes like this, all because of the antisocial decisions of other parents. And I worry about the possibility of more serious outcomes if we continue to contract the virus. But the alternative – keeping my children out of school, depriving them of an education, and depriving me of the childcare I need to work – is equally unacceptable.

Our country should be smarter and more responsible than that. States should require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before going to school, just as children should be vaccinated against diseases like chicken pox and polio. Parents who refuse to accept the advice of the medical community should not have the right to make all of our children less safe.
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