Reducing children’s health risks when they return to school | Latin Voices | Chicago news

Classes are back in session this week in many school districts, including Chicago Public Schools. As the pandemic continues to evolve, this year comes with new COVID-19 protocols.

“The science is supporting pretty much every change CDC is making,” he said Dr. Geraldine Luna, medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “Reports of cases at school have been at their lowest and we expect them to continue to be at their lowest as we vaccinate children and send them back to school protected.”

For parents of unvaccinated children who wonder if it is necessary to vaccinate in this phase of the pandemic, the allergist and immunologist Dr. Juanita Mora says it’s not only worth it, it’s safer than ever.

“We’ve given millions of children vaccines now, and it’s safe and effective. As we lower our guard, as we get back to normal, let’s protect our kids and give them the vaccine so they have a wonderful school year,” said the Doctor Mora. “Not only does it protect them, but it also protects their grandparents, their community, our country because children are often vectors of transmission, and it will keep their schools open.”

2022 also brought a new health concern: the monkeypox outbreak, which left many parents worried about the virus reaching schools. Dr. Luna said the CDPH is optimistic it won’t become a problem for students.

“We haven’t seen any childhood cases of monkeypox here in Chicago and that’s a very promising thing,” Dr. Luna said. “Vaccines are coming in now. In Europe, we’re starting to see a drop in those cases, and everything we see in Europe is later reflected here in the United States. So hopefully the chances of seeing a child in Chicago with MPVs are less than zero.”

Chicago Public Schools’ 2022 COVID protocols do not include universal masking requirements for students or faculty, but Dr. Mora said there are some circumstances in which parents might want to consider keeping their children masked.

“If someone is very immunocompromised in the household, they might consider masking the child, especially for example, a grandparent who is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation for cancer or a brother or sister or a newborn child in the household as well.

Dr. Luna also urges parents to get their children vaccinated against the flu this year.

“Flu season is coming up very quickly now. It’s just around the corner in September and it’s very harmful in children and the elderly, it attacks those two extremes in age. So the important thing is to vaccinate your child, check with the your doctor and protect him,” said Dr. Luna.

The release of a COVID vaccine for children under 5 was hailed by some parents earlier this summer, but vaccination rates for this cohort remain low. Dr. Mora said she urges parents of children under 5 to vaccinate them.

“Especially now, they’re going back to kindergarten, pre-K, etc. We’ve given millions of vaccines in those age groups, myself included, I’ve given them to children as young as six months old, and they’ve all done well ” said Dr. Mora.

The recent resurgence of polio in New York City has alarmed public health officials there, and Dr. Luna said the Chicago Department of Public Health continues to monitor water systems here very cautiously.

“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’re making sure we’re checking our water systems. We’re checking the monitoring systems that we have and they’ve gotten much, much better now that we have those monitoring and surveillance systems.”

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