CORONAVIRUS

How can parents protect unvaccinated children under 12 from covid-19 risks?

Pediatric hospitalizations rose sharply as the Delta variant took hold in the US, leading parents to wonder what the best way to protect their children is.

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How can parents protect unvaccinated children under 12 from covid-19 risks?
LEONHARD FOEGER REUTERS

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study that shows in states with low vaccination rates, hospitalizations and emergency room visits for children with covid-19 were higher. The researchers at CDC argue that these findings show that “community vaccination, in coordination with testing strategies and other prevention measures, is critical to protecting pediatric populations from SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe COVID-19.”

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is the only one approved for use in the United States for children older than twelve. These restrictions leave a significant portion of the pediatric population in the country vulnerable to infection.

The report also states that since July, when the Delta variant became the dominant strain of the virus, rates of hospitalization of people between the ages of zero to seventeen increased.

However, the authors stipulate that this increase correlates with the general increase in covid-19 cases across the country and does not mean that the Delta variant is causing more severe infection in children. Additionally, the team found that states with the lowest vaccination rates saw pediatric hospitalizations and emergency visits around “3.4 and 3.7 times that in the states with the highest vaccination coverage, respectively.”

What can parents do to protect their children?

There are a few different tools parents can use to try and protect their children from the virus. One of the main ways to protect your children is by getting them vaccianted. According to the CDC, around 42% of children between twelve and seventeen are fully vaccinated against covid-19.

For children between twelve and seventeen, getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent severe infection from covid-19. This is especially important considering that the researchers also found that pediatric age groups most likely to be hospitalized were those older than four, particularly those between the ages of twelve and seventeen.

In addition to getting your children vaccinated, the next best thing to do is get vaccinated yourself. This is especially important for parents and guardians who care for children under twelve.

In a recent interview with CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci reiterated this point saying, “The way you protect children who, because of their age, cannot get vaccinated yet is to surround the children -- be it friends, family, school teachers, personnel in the school -- surround the children with vaccinated people.”

This advice from Dr. Fauci is critical when coupled with the findings from the CDC that show that areas with fewer vaccinated adults saw more severe cases of covid-19 in children.