National Nurses United applauds White House plans to roll out Covid vaccine doses for ages 5 to 11
National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union of registered nurses, applauded an announcement by the White House of plans to distribute Covid-19 vaccine doses to 28 million children aged 5 to 11. Nurses emphasize that by securing enough doses for this age group and outlining the logistics of a rollout plan ahead of potential sign-off by federal health officials on a reduced dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Biden administration is taking strong action to protect the health of children in the United States.
Earlier in the pandemic, people falsely believed in the urban myth that children were somehow immune to Covid or only kids with preexisting conditions could get infected. Of course, children can become infected and transmit the virus at the same rate as adults. Many children, however, may be asymptomatic or too mildly infected to register as positive on some diagnostic tests, thus limiting case detection in children. And, yes, kids can also get severe illness and complications from Covid-19 and be hospitalized; this summer, NNU pediatric nurses witnessed pediatric hospitalizations at some of their highest points in the pandemic. And medical researchers are now finding that even children and teens with mild cases of Covid can suffer lingering, harmful neurological, psychological, and physical symptoms and organ damage that may plague them for the rest of their lives.
With kids back to school in person; the more virulent Delta variant continuing to circulate in addition to a host of other cold and flu viruses; and few and fragmented public health requirements on masking, distancing, testing, contact tracing, and isolating, National Nurses United emphasized that the entire country must now be practicing all the multiple measures of infection control we know work well to limit spread of the virus.
Making vaccines widely available to children and their caregivers, teachers, and families is an important measure in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. Nurses encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated to do so because it will help prevent severe illness and death of the immunized person. Nurses encourage parents with children ages 5 to 11 to seek education and ask questions of trusted sources.
But vaccination alone doesn’t stop the spread of Covid. We need vaccines in conjunction with all the other infection control measures, including universal masking in all settings outside your own home, distancing and avoiding gatherings, robust testing and contact tracing, isolating at home if you are exposed or positive, good ventilation, and more. The critical measures of infection control also include protecting nurses and health care workers with optimal, single-use PPE, providing safe staffing levels, and other protections. These measures are equally as important for other settings that employ essential workers, including schools, retail, grocery, food industry, and more.