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Health Experts Say Schools Will Need Vaccine Mandates to Maintain In-Person Learning

As Covid-19 cases surge among children and teenagers, vaccine mandates in schools might become the only way to keep kids learning safely in the classroom, according to pediatricians and other medical experts. Childhood Covid-19 cases have increased “exponentially” among children in recent weeks, the American Academy of Pediatrics said. The latest weekly count of new pediatric cases — 243,373 — marks a 240% increase compared to the week of July 22-29, the AAP said Monday. With many hospitals overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, some doctors are worried about how they’re going to care for patients if the situation doesn’t improve.

And the rates of new cases and deaths are rising nationwide.

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Tuesday, August 4, 2021. The White House has called upon schools, community organizers, and even the Gen Z pop star Olivia Rodrigo to double down on pitching the vaccine’s benefits. Photographer: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg

The US has averaged 171,394 new Covid-19 cases every day over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, a 33% increase from just one month ago. And over the past week, an average of 1,843 Americans have died every day from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins data. That’s almost triple the average daily death rate from one month ago.

Vaccination is the best form of protection against Covid-19 hospitalization and death, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. But only those 12 years old and older are eligible. Vaccine trials for younger children are underway, and younger children might be vaccinated by the end of the year, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. Those measures will likely have to stay in place until there is a combination of high vaccination rates and low rates of disease spread.

 

Until vaccines are available for younger children, health agencies have promoted wearing masks, testing, ventilation, and distancing to keep kids safe.



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