Classes are back in session this week in many school districts, including Chicago Public Schools. As the pandemic continues to evolve, this year comes with new COVID-19 protocols.

“The science is supporting almost all of the changes the CDC is making,” he said Dr. Geraldine Luna, medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “Reports of cases at school have been lower and we expect them to continue to be lower as we vaccinate children and send them protected to school.”

For parents of unvaccinated children who wonder if it is necessary to vaccinate at this stage of the pandemic, allergology and immunology Dr. Juanita Mora says, not only is it worth it, but it’s safer than ever.

“We have now given millions of vaccines to children and it is safe and effective. As we’re letting our guard down, as we’re getting back to normal, let’s protect our kids and get them vaccinated so they can have a great school year,” said Dr. Mora. “She not only it protects them, but it also protects their grandparents, their community, our country, because children are often vectors of transmission, and it will keep their schools open.”

2022 also brought a new health concern: the outbreak of monkeypox, leaving many parents worried about the virus reaching schools. Dr. Luna said CDPH is optimistic it won’t become a problem for students.

“We haven’t seen any cases of children with monkeypox here in Chicago, and that’s very promising,” said Dr. Luna. “Vaccines are now being marketed. In Europe, we are starting to see these cases decrease, and whatever we see in Europe is later reflected here in the United States. So we hope the chances of seeing a kid in Chicago with an MPV are less than zero.”

Chicago Public Schools’ 2022 Covid protocols do not include universal masking requirements for students or faculty, but Dr. Mora said there are some circumstances in which parents may want to consider keeping their children covered up.

“If someone is very immunocompromised at home, then they might consider masking the child, especially for example, a grandparent who is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation for cancer or several or a sibling or a newborn child at home as well. .

Dr. Luna also urges parents to get their children vaccinated for this year’s flu.

“Flu season is coming very quickly now. It is around the corner in September and it is very harmful to children and the elderly, it attacks these two extremes in age. So the important thing is to vaccinate your child, consult your doctor and protect them”, said Dr. Luna.

The release of a COVID vaccine for children under 5 was welcomed by some parents earlier this summer, but vaccination rates for that group remain low. Dr. Mora said he is urging parents of children under 5 to vaccinate them.

“Especially now, they’re going back to daycare, pre-K, etc. We have given millions of vaccines in these age groups, including myself, I have given them to children up to six months old and they have all done well,” said Dr. I got it.

The recent resurgence of polio in New York City has alarmed public health officials there, and Dr. Luna said the Chicago Department of Public Health is continuing to monitor water systems here out of an abundance of caution.

“The last case reported in Illinois was in 1970 and it was a person who came from another country where polio is endemic,” said Dr. Luna. “We are as always making sure we are checking our water systems. We’re checking the surveillance systems that we have in place, which are much, much improved now that we have this vigilance and surveillance system in place.”

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