The Perfect Enemy | Get the kids their shots: New York should require kids to get the COVID vaccine to go to school - New York Daily News
May 28, 2022

Get the kids their shots: New York should require kids to get the COVID vaccine to go to school – New York Daily News

Get the kids their shots: New York should require kids to get the COVID vaccine to go to school  New York Daily NewsView Full Coverage on Google News

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At its peak, measles killed about 500 Americans a year. Same with tetanus. Chickenpox, about 100. Today, vaccines warding off these pathogens are a precondition of attending school in all 50 states. As a result of these and other mandates, measles hasn’t killed anyone in the U.S. since 2015; annual tetanus deaths have not exceeded 10 since 1999; and chickenpox kills fewer than 20 per year.

Our current roster of student immunization requirements are for diseases that have been rendered relatively harmless; in fact, that’s why they’ve been rendered relatively harmless. So why would we not require youngsters to get the COVID-19 vaccine when the FDA issues its final approval?

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No, COVID is not especially harmful to kids: From 0.1% to 1.5% of cases result in hospitalization, and at most .02% die. Still, the virus has killed about 1,000 American children (and nearly a million adults) over the last two-plus years, orders of magnitude more than those other conditions for which we routinely inoculate. There’ve also been about 7,500 childhood cases of MIS-C, a rare but scary condition where different body parts become inflamed.

SARS-CoV2 is now so prevalent, and bound to be with us so long, that it is entirely consistent to simultaneously acknowledge that its harm to kids is rare and to urge widespread vaccination, including via school mandates, to prevent serious disease that sometimes can occur.

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While vaccinated children often catch COVID and often get mildly sick from it, especially the latest mutation of the omicron variant, they essentially never get seriously sick or die, and hardly ever contract MIS-C. Long COVID is another real risk. Yet just 59% of New York City’s eligible children ages 5-17 have had both their shots.

With an almost-all-vaccinated student population, the district could shred disruptive rules sending thousands of kids home and forcing them to take rapid tests. Kids would get sick now and then, but they and their parents would have peace of mind that their illness would not seriously harm them. And while vaccination doesn’t stop spread — the latest variants are especially contagious — it does make it less likely.

We’ve not been keen on begrudging unvaccinated kids the right to attend prom, not as long as the rules say they can go to school unvaccinated and unmasked. But when final federal vaccine approval for kids comes for the appropriate age ranges, the calculus should change. Whether via city Health Department edict or state legislation, the vaccine should become a precondition of school admission in the corresponding grades. Some parents may chafe about the ultimatum or even threaten to pull their kids from public schools in defiance, like city employees did before almost uniformly complying with their mandates, but they already have their kids get a battery of shots.