Nebraska doctor gives tips on preventing COVID during upcoming school year

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – As back-to-school season draws nearer, parents are starting to wonder about how to keep their kids safe as COVID-19 continues.

Over the past two years, both cases and deaths have spiked toward the end of the summer, moving into respiratory virus season.

Near the beginning of the pandemic, kids did better against the virus, with only 2.5% of new cases.

But after major variants like delta and omicron, that number has risen. It was 13.7% in one recent week.

Dr. Alice Sato, epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, recommends a layered approach to protection from COVID.

“Among the things we recommend are vaccinations and being up to date; wearing a high-quality mask; avoiding crowded, indoor, poorly ventilated areas; and staying aware of the rate of transmission in the community,” Sato said.

She says there are simple and safe vaccines available for children 6 months and up from both Pfizer and Moderna. They only contain about 7 or 8 ingredients.

“They contain the MRNA itself, or messenger RNA, they contain three types of fat or lipid that encircles them, and then salt and sugar basically,” Sato said.

Sato said she and everyone in pediatrics appreciates the concern from parents who want what is best for their children. She says some parents are worried because the vaccines are relatively new, while others think the risk of the vaccine is worse than the risk of COVID.

In reality, a COVID infection has been a top five cause of death in children for months. It can also lead to ER visits or hospitalizations.

“The other doctors I work with have felt confident in having their children or grandchildren vaccinated, even in the youngest age group,” Sato said. “So we really think that these are safe and effective vaccines, and we recommend boosting.”

Most of the vaccines are two doses given three to four weeks apart, but for younger children, the dosage amounts are smaller. There are also boosters available for children 5 and up and for immunocompromised children.

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