Opinion | Be preventative: Keep unvaccinated kids safe

As the school year commences, unvaccinated children are at risk of contracting COVID-19. We need to take preventative actions to keep kids healthy.


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Backpack of school child with face mask and sanitizer.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Columnist

When I reminisce on elementary school days, I think of field trips, crowded school buses, loud lunchrooms, and well-worn school equipment. I don’t remember anything ever being overly sanitary, and I remember cold season — when everyone made everyone else sick. Yet, we just barged through it.

Elementary school kids today will have different memories. Kids will grow up to reminisce of quarantining when a classmate contracted COVID-19, teachers constantly reminding students to keep masks on, and sitting six-feet away from classmates and learning at a computer rather than a classroom.

With no mask mandates and few precautions for Iowa public schools, COVID-19 will be in schools this year. Just five days into the school year, the Iowa City school district reported 27 positive cases of COVID-19 among students and six positive cases among staff members.

Currently, kids under 12 are unable to be vaccinated. However, COVID-19 hospitalization admissions for children is at an all-time high since the U.S. started tracking pediatric cases. Without vaccinations to protect against the virus, kids are exceedingly vulnerable to getting sick.

All children deserve a childhood: to be surrounded by kids, messes and even germs. As teenagers and adults, we need to do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so the children can safely go back to school.

Even without mask mandates in Iowa, we need to wear masks in public areas. According to the CDC, COVID-19 is spread through person-to-person respiratory droplets. Wearing a mask along with other face coverings is an effective barrier between people.

In situations when you’re not around kids, it is still vital you wear a mask. Every inaction you make in public can indirectly impact a child. COVID-19 is highly transmissible.  Without proper preventative measures, you can make someone else sick without knowing.

Since Iowa transitioned back to pre-pandemic life, social distancing may seem unnecessary considering school, restaurants, and movie theaters have reopened. Contrary to Iowa’s mitigated guidelines, we need to socially distance ourselves to reduce the potential of exposure to COVID-19.

This includes not just public areas, but also with people in your personal life.

Unless you are a direct care giver, socially distancing from children is necessary to prevent exposure. However, it is equally important to social distance from people who are frequently exposed to children such as teachers and child-care workers.

Overall, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. As teenagers and adults, we are privileged to have an abundance of vaccinations available in Iowa. Vaccinations are a critical tool for not just transitioning back to normal life but decreasing exposure and spread of COVID-19 to those not yet eligible for the vaccination.

Please, get vaccinated not only for your safety, but for those who can’t defend themselves. Even though COVID-19 symptoms are often less severe for children, we must take all precautions to protect the few.

I remember as a child, one year felt like a lifetime; so, I can’t imagine how unbearable COVID-19 has made the past year and a half for children. We all need to do our part so children can go back to school and normal life safely.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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