SALT LAKE CITY — For most families in Utah, school starts just weeks away, and now pediatricians are stressing the importance of students getting the COVID-19 shots and other immunizations before returning to school.
With an increase in COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads, Dr. Neal Davis of Intermountain Healthcare that vaccination against COVID-19 should be at the top of your back-to-school list for those 12 and older.
“If you get the vaccine now, you can get that second dose in three weeks, and you’re starting the school year really well,” he said.
If your child is not yet old enough to be vaccinated, Davis advises people to exercise caution.
“I would do what we know works: let the kids wear masks, be smart about how we interact, and everything will be fine,” he said.
Despite COVID burnout, Davis is adhering to the CDC’s recent guidelines requiring both vaccinated students and adults to wear masks at school and indoors.
“I think we all have the fatigue of being told what to do and yet it’s super important that we recognize what’s going on and this variant is more aggressive,” Davis said.
Davis encourages people to go to their doctor with their questions and concerns.
“People have questions and need to feel respected. And I think it’s so important to listen, understand, respect the concerns, provide the information that we have,” he said.
While acknowledging and respecting the concerns of others, he reassures people about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Getting the vaccine really gives peace of mind. It’s effective, it’s very effective, 90% effective against the Delta vaccine variant. That’s excellent,” Davis said. “There are millions and millions of people who have received the vaccine, and we know it works and helps prevent, especially hospitalizations and death, serious consequences of COVID.”
In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, Davis encourages parents to make sure their children are up to date on other back-to-school vaccinations. He says we’ve seen a dip in other childhood vaccines during the pandemic.
“Summer is a great time to do it. Go to your kid’s doctor, go in and find out what they need and let’s keep up,’ he said.
Davis says the last thing we need is a local epidemic on top of a pandemic.
“We’re so lucky to have vaccines that protect us from things like polio, you know, where kids were paralyzed or unable to move and do things that kids need to do,” he said.
Between shots and masks, Davis reminds us that children are flexible and strong.
“Kids are resilient and… a lot of times they lead us, so I think they’ll do well,” he said. “If our entire society did as well as our elementary schools, we’d be in a really good place.”
Davis says many pediatric clinics are now administering COVID-19 vaccines. He also says it’s safe to get the COVID vaccination on the same day as other vaccinations.
The CDC previously recommended that COVID-19 vaccines be administered alone, with a withdrawal period of at least 14 days before or after administration of other vaccines. This is no longer a concern.