Texas doctors discuss health concerns as kids head back to school

Texas Children’s Hospital held a back-to-school press conference to address some parents’ concerns, such as: B.: COVID-19, monkeypox, polio and mental health.

AUSTIN, Texas – On Monday, Texas Children’s Hospital hosted a back-to-school press conference via Zoom to address many of the concerns and questions parents have as their children head back into the classroom. The doctors’ main concerns were COVID-19, polio, monkeypox and mental health following the Uvalde killing spree.

With COVID-19, doctors said they’re seeing a drop in hospitalizations over the past week and that they think we’re going down from the peak of Omicron BA.5. They say that this is good news and that we haven’t seen any new variants.

But they say school will be a test. They say that all children over the age of 5 who are eligible can get a booster shot. Doctors say immunizations are a key tool to keep children healthy this school year. They said in the Houston area where the hospital is located, only 25% of school-age children are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Another way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through masks. When KVUE asked how doctors feel about masking, one doctor said that when it comes to COVID-19, we live more normal lives now than we did two years ago. He said it is up to parents and children to assess risk factors and decide whether the child will wear a mask at school. Things to consider are school setup, community prevalence, and immunization status. Another doctor said he still recommends masks for all children, especially unvaccinated children. He said children are still being hospitalized with COVID-19 and the vaccine has been shown to reduce serious illness.

Regarding polio, doctors said there are currently no cases in Texas, but it is worrying that there are cases in the US like New York. They said we’ve seen the damage polio can do in previous outbreaks and that the best thing to do is make sure adults and children are vaccinated. They say polio is very deadly and easily transmitted. They say there is no treatment.

“For those children who are not vaccinated against polio, this is certainly a major concern if polio spreads again,” said Dr. Stan Spinner, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Urgent Care.

Doctors said monkeypox is rare in children. The Department of State Health Services reported that as of August 15, monkeypox had been confirmed in only two children in Texas. Doctors said this shouldn’t be a big problem before the school year because intimate, prolonged contact is required for monkeypox to spread. They said this would be a greater risk for teenage college students who might kiss or engage in sexual activity. They said they should talk to teenagers to be aware of open wounds on themselves or others. But for younger children and all students in a classroom or school, this is not a big problem.

“This is not COVID. So that we understand each other. This is not an infection that’s going to be as contagious, almost as contagious in any way, because it’s not an airborne virus,” said Dr. James Versalovic, chief pathologist at Texas Children’s Hospital. “It can certainly be transmitted through respiratory droplets and close contact. But that is in a completely different league.”

When it comes to mental health and the recent school shootings in Uvalde, children and young people’s doctors said parents need to listen to what they say and not assume how their children are feeling. They recommend really listening to what their concerns are before providing an immediate response.

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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/education/schools/texas-doctors-health-concerns-back-to-school/269-518e4211-e177-4034-8f9b-ff8cc126f89f Texas doctors discuss health concerns as kids head back to school

Laura Coffey

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