Pediatricians support a mask mandate

By Anna Ogena, Judy Butto, Kevin Collins, Ben Westley, Matt Serna and Dale Knutsen

Updated: 25 minutes ago Published: 2 hours ago

The American Academy of Pediatrics Alaska Chapter is encouraging the Anchorage Assembly to implement a citywide mask mandate as proposed under AO 2021-91. Vaccines are the most effective means we have to end the COVID-19 pandemic. At present, children under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccination and are therefore unprotected. In addition, the municipality suffers from a high percentage of vaccine aspirations, leaving many eligible individuals unvaccinated. With these facts in mind, it is imperative that we protect our community, including our vulnerable children, by mandating masks in the community.

Since the school’s inception, the Anchorage School District (ASD) has required universal masking, which is in line with current American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines for children. The most recent AAP statement on masking states: “AAP recommends universal masking because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines, and masking has been proven to reduce transmission of the virus and protect those who are not vaccinated. .” By masking, ASD has successfully minimized transmission in schools and kept our children safe. Masking is the most important immediate step we can take to reduce infection and protect our most vulnerable parents, grandparents and children. The CDC and the American Medical Association, as well as the AAP, support masking as an effective tool to stop community transmission of COVID.

Alaska’s own medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, has repeatedly stated that everyone should mask themselves in public, advice that was successfully heard during our past peaks.

Our healthcare infrastructure is under extreme pressure due to the unprecedented number of patients requiring hospitalization. This puts all other individuals with non-COVID illnesses and injuries at risk from prolonged waits for transfer to Alaska’s highest levels of care, offered only in Anchorage. Prioritizing beds poses serious ethical challenges in healthcare and greatly contributes to the emotional toll on our healthcare professionals. As a community, we can and must lighten their burden; masking will help to achieve this necessity. We know from past experience that when Anchorage masks are used, the number of cases decreases. We can do it again. Our children depend on us.

In conclusion, the chair of the AAP Council of School Health Executive Committee Elect, Sara Bode, MD, reports, “There are many children and others who cannot be vaccinated, which is why it is important to use every resource in our toolkit to help children protecting from COVID-19.Universal masking is one of those tools and has also been shown to be effective in protecting people from other respiratory diseases.It is also the most effective strategy to create consistent messages and expectations in students without the added burden of monitoring everyone’s vaccination status.” As a community, it is our responsibility to protect our children, and Regulation AO 2021-91 helps us do that.

Anna Ogena, MD

Jody Button, MD

Kevin Kollins, MD

Ben Westley, MD

Matt Serna, MD

Dale Knutsen, Executive Director

anchorage

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