“We want kids to stay in school this year, want them to have a terrific school year. And the best way to do it is to make sure that they’re vaccinated,” pediatrician Dr. Ned Ketyer said.
He said it’s been a slow uptick for children to get the vaccine. Currently, kids 6 months and older can get the vaccine and all kids over 5 can get boosted.
In Allegheny County, state data shows 37% of kids 5-9 are fully vaccinated, about 48% for 10-14 and about 56% of people 15-19 have their initial doses to be fully vaccinated.
“We would like to see more children get immunized, especially before the school year starts,” Ketyer said.
In addition to Allegheny County, Washington, Butler, Westmoreland and Fayette counties have “high” COVID-19 community levels. Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen recommended people wear masks indoors. Pittsburgh Public Schools said masking is required in “medium” and “high” COVID-19 community levels.
“Masks really do help. They do help to stop the spread,” Allegheny Health Network internal medicine doctor Dr. Brian Lamb said.
For months, many people have gone without masking, and asking people to go back can be a challenge. Doctors said this year should not be as challenging as the past two school years.
“At this point, we kind of know what we’re doing. We have a better handle on it,” Lamb said.
For falls sports, doctors recommend still distancing and limiting time inside together.
“Maybe scatter that and not have the whole squad in the weight room at the same time. Things like that can help prevent some of the spread,” Dr. Lamb said.
The hope is that COVID-19 can become something we can live with, like other diseases, but doctors said we’re not there quite yet.
Doctors said hospitals are not being overwhelmed currently, which is good news. They believe the CDC will release new guidance for schools soon.