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BRONX TIMES R 12 EPORTER, SEPT. 3-9, 2021 BTR
BY DR. JOEL ROSE
As a pediatrician it has always
been a pleasure giving parents the
best medical advice possible to help
their child live healthy and productive
lives. But even before COVID-19
became a part of our everyday language,
much of what I had to do was
convince parents that vaccines were
safe. Despite years of polio, chickenpox
and measles vaccines being required
for children to go to school
for decades, I would still be asked if
the vaccines for them were OK. Now
that schools will be open again soon
and the Delta variant is infecting
more New Yorkers, we have to reduce
these hesitancies to get more students
vaccinated before they go back
Despite efforts by many elected
offi cials and government agencies,
the South Bronx still has some of the
lowest vaccination rates in New York
City, in addition to a positivity rate
around 4%. This combination could
lead to a hyper-local outbreak turning
back the progress that took so
long to make.
The truth is I can’t say I’m surprised.
Many parents truly feel they
are violating their child by putting a
needle in them. For instance, despite
the fact that there are many lifesaving
childhood vaccines available by
injection, one mother only chose to
give her child the Rotavirus vaccine,
because it is given orally. This decision,
as a result of “needle phobia,”
left her child vulnerable to many diseases
that can result in severe illness
or even death.
According to the American Academy
of Pediatrics, even though children
are less at risk than adults,
“all children are at (some) risk of severe
illness, hospitalization, or even
death from a COVID-19 infection.”
As children are going to camp and
participating in other social activities
though, we are already seeing an
increase of cases in them, especially
with the Delta variant. We have already
seen some outbreaks and it has
been reported that up to 1.9% of all
childhood cases can result in a severe
case, leading to hospitalization
and even the loss of life. Where COVID
19 vaccinations are low, like the
South Bronx, this scenario is particularly
in a community with an outbreak of
10,000 COVID-19 cases in children,
that could leave up to 200 children
hospitalized with severe disease and
risk for death.
After hundreds of millions of
doses of COVID-19 vaccines have
been administered, we know that
vaccinated parents and adolescents
who live with children is the safest
and most effective way to protect
those who are unable to get a vaccine
Since the Delta variant spreads
more easily, if your child is planning
on being in a classroom they are putting
themselves more at risk of becoming
infected, which means you
and those around you can become
infected too. While those who are
vaccinated are strongly protected
against the Delta variant, if they become
infected they may still have
symptoms similar to those of a minor
cold including a cough, fever or headache,
in addition to a loss of smell.
But those who are not vaccinated can
wind up in the hospital.
Alegria Health & Wellness has
been administering the vaccine as a
pop-up site for months now, and one
of the most common questions we get
from patients coming in is about the
breakthrough cases. These instances
are very rare compared to all the people
who have received a vaccine. And
those who are vaccinated have less
of a chance of spreading COVID-19 to
So if you or your children are
planning on going back to school this
fall, make sure they are vaccinated.
It is the best way to keep yourself and
fellow students safe, as well as your
Dr. Joel Rose is pediatrician at
Alegria Health and Wellness, a medical
center located in the South Bronx.
Photo by REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Vaccine hesitancy can prevent
students going back to school