Pediatricians speak up for the kids

COVID 19 remains the most deadly and damaging pandemic in at least 100 years. Fortunately, we now have three different vaccines to prevent or modify this disease. This is a remarkable achievement that has prevented tens of thousands of deaths.

Distributing the vaccine was a challenging and costly task for any state, especially in the most rural and remote areas.

Recently, all states have received federal funding to help them meet this challenge and expand access to vaccines for younger children once FDA approval is given.

New Hampshire’s share of federal vaccine funding would have been $27 million, which would have been used to hire a public health program manager and 12 public health workers to focus on increasing vaccine adoption and delivery in the United States. statewide, but especially in those areas with exceptionally high rates of morbidity and hospitalization and low vaccination coverage.

While COVID is generally milder in children, currently in our state nearly 30% of COVID cases now occur in children while the COVID positive rate is 24% nationwide.

Unfortunately, there have been more than 6 million cases of COVID in children in the US since the start of the pandemic, with 600 deaths.

When COVID cases surface in the school-age population, there are significant impacts on learning and serious potential threats to older or immunocompromised contacts.

New Hampshire currently has many highly successful school flu vaccination programs so that children, with parental consent, can receive their flu vaccine during school hours.

Federal funding would have played a major role in planning COVID vaccine programs in schools for children ages 5 to 11 who have parental consent for this vaccine.

Access to vaccines in school is especially critical for families living in rural settings or families with transportation difficulties or the inability to take time off work to get vaccinated in their child’s GP practice.

On October 13, the governor’s executive council voted 4-1 to deny this federal funding, against the will of our governor and the majority of New Hampshire residents.

As pediatricians, we want to stand up for the children of our state who were not old enough to vote for those elected officials who are at risk of illness from COVID disease, virus transmission to vulnerable home contacts, and missed time away from school, sports and friends before they received federal funding to help them spread the COVID vaccine.

We are shocked and incredibly disappointed that political attitudes and unscientific beliefs are affecting the next generation of New Hampshire citizens, our school-age children.

(Suzanne Boulter, MD, Carl Cooley, MD, George DeVito, MD, Chris Hallowell, MD, Susan Lynch, MD, and Nancy VanVranken, MD are pediatricians who have practiced in Concord.)

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