The American Academy of Pediatrics has published data on children ( under age 18) and Covid. Data has been collected from 49 states, New York City, Puerto Rico and Guam. Data is recent as of Jan. 27, 2022. Since the pandemic began, 11.4 million children have tested positive. Since Omicron more cases reported.( Note, I am sure these numbers are much too low. I know of at least eight relatives who tested positive and nothing was reported to public health agencies from the home testing kits).
Nevertheless, children represented 18.6% of all reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 22.8% of all cases for the week ending Jan 27, 2022. Children represented 0.1-1.5% of all covid hospitalizations. Children represented 0.00-0.02% of all covid deaths.
So what should we do with these numbers and school? To me, it seems that all children should be tested. If positive, stay home until testing negative and without symptoms. All adults in school settings should be vaccinated, so, if a child transmits a virus, the adult is protected from serious illness. That includes getting boosters, since protection wanes.
The number of hospitalizations and deaths of children is extremely low and it is unknown how many of those who died had underlying risk factors. (The rate of obesity in children is surely greater than the percent who died or who were even hospitalized.) Do masks need to be worn in school? I do not see how they would make much difference if the above procedures are followed.
Should childen be vaccinated? That is another question. Approval of vaccination for children has been very recent, so most of the above data must have been collected on unvaccinated children.There can be varied opinions on vaccinating children. To me, if adults are vaccinated, that is the main protection. Since serious issues with children can occur from vaccinations, even if rarely, I can understand fear that parents may have.
We know that the mRNA vaccines are not that effective for Omicron long term .Until a vaccine is developed for all variants, I might consider withholding a vaccine for my child. As they grow older, that is a different story. Note I am talking about children and vaccinated adults. This would apply to school and not to the general public, many of whom are unvaccinated and at risk of serious disease.
Bill Maher recently did a bit on how American Scientific Leadership over-reacts and does not give recommendations based on probability. I can agree with that, although it takes some time to collect data and make those recommendations . There is a tendency and actually a need to play it safe until data is collected. I would welcome any other opinions.
Gerard Freisinger, MD