How can we protect our children, especially those under the age of 12, from COVID-19? We know that a vaccine is imminent for some of those children. However, the beginning of the school year has focused on the possibility of the spread of COVID-19 among school-aged children and the very real probability that they will bring the virus home and infect unvaccinated family members.
The good news is that the situation with the COVID-19 virus is much better than it was a year ago. The vaccine rollout has made a tremendous difference in the number of daily infections and especially, the number of hospitalizations.
Of course, the vaccinations must be ongoing to continue to be effective and we are seeing now that booster shots are being recommended for longer protection. It is very important to realize that without the high rate of vaccinations, the numbers of daily infections, hospitalizations, and deaths would be incrementally higher.
The solution to protection in the schools is still an evolving issue. Mask-wearing, physical distancing, and ensuring proper ventilation in classrooms are currently believed to be the most important measures to take to control the spread of COVID-19 in the schools.
Incredible as it may seem, there is a privacy issue with some schools who believe it is the right of the parents to decide whether or not their children should wear masks. These schools and many others are testing schoolchildren for COVID on a regular basis, either to skirt the mask-wearing question or as an extra layer of protection. Children who test positive must quarantine at home. Fortunately, more and more schools have instituted a mask mandate.
The number one way to protect our children (especially those for whom vaccines are not yet available) is for us, their parents and other relatives and caretakers, and their teachers, to get fully vaccinated ourselves!
The term, 'herd immunity' when referring to animals is how a herd of animals will protect their young by surrounding them and keeping them in the center of the herd.
For humans, herd immunity means that if enough of us get vaccinated we can protect others who cannot. Metaphorically, we can protect our young by surrounding them with a wall of people immune to the virus.
Outbreaks of COVID-19 in the workplace is an issue of concern but household transmission was and is a major driver of the pandemic.
We spend more time with the people we live with than with most others in our lives. When a virus infects one member of a family, it can quickly spread to everyone else living in the house.
The secondary risk of infection from a family member can be 20 percent but during the second and third waves of COVID-19, the percentage was over 30 percent. This would likely go up should more infectious variants emerge.
The less the COVID-19 virus is out there in the community, the less likely it will enter your home and the less likely it will be brought into the schools.
The goal of vaccines is not only to protect ourselves but to protect the more vulnerable members of our population (our herd), like our children. Animals form herds and stay together to avoid danger. Sadly, sometimes it seems that humans are only interested in saving themselves!
Some information for this article was used by permission from the McGill Office for Science and Society.