Classes resume this week in many school districts, including Chicago Public Schools. As the pandemic continues to evolve, this year brings new COVID-19 protocols.
“Science supports just about every change the CDC makes,” said Dr Geraldine Luna, medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “Case reports at school have been lower and we expect them to continue to be the lowest as we vaccinate children and send them to school protected.”
For parents of unvaccinated children who wonder if it is necessary to vaccinate at this stage of the pandemic, allergist and immunologist Dr Juanita Mora said, it’s not only worth it, but it’s safer than ever.
“We have now given millions of vaccines to children, and it is safe and effective. As we let our guard down, as we get back to normal, let’s protect our children and give them the vaccine so they have a wonderful school year,” said Dr Mora. “It not only protects them, but also protects their grandparents, their community, our country because children are often carriers of transmission and it will keep their schools open.”
2022 also brought a new health concern: the monkeypox epidemic, leaving many parents worried about the virus reaching schools. Dr Luna said the CDPH is optimistic this will not become a problem for students.
“We haven’t seen any cases of children with monkeypox here in Chicago and that’s something very promising,” Dr. Luna said. “Vaccines are being rolled out. In Europe we are starting to see a downward slope of these cases and everything we see in Europe is later reflected here in the United States. So hopefully the odds of seeing a child in Chicago with MPV are less than zero.
Chicago Public Schools’ COVID 2022 protocols do not include universal masking requirements for students or faculty, but Dr. Mora said there are some circumstances in which parents might consider keeping their children masked.
“If someone is very immunocompromised at home, then they might consider masking the child, especially for example, a grandparent who is having chemotherapy or radiation for cancer or a sibling or a new – also born at home.
Dr Luna is also urging parents to get their children vaccinated against this year’s flu.
“Flu season is now coming very quickly. It’s just around the corner in September and it’s very detrimental to children and the elderly, it attacks those two extreme ages. So the important thing is to get your child vaccinated, see your doctor and protect them,” said Dr Luna.
The release of a COVID vaccine for children under 5 was welcomed by some parents earlier this summer, but vaccination rates for this cohort remain low. Dr Mora said she was urging parents of children under 5 to get them vaccinated.
“Especially now they’re going back to nurseries, pre-K, et cetera. We’ve given millions of vaccines to these age groups, myself included, I’ve given them to children as young as six months old, and they’ve all been successful,” Dr Mora said.
The recent resurgence of polio in New York has alarmed public health officials there, and Dr. Luna said the Chicago Department of Public Health continues to monitor water systems here out of an abundance of caution.
“The last reported case in Illinois was in 1970 and it was a person who came from another country where polio is endemic,” Dr Luna said. “As always, we make sure to check our water systems. We check the surveillance systems that we have in place, which have improved a lot, a lot now that we have these vigilance and surveillance systems in place. »