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Aspirus pediatrician explains how to keep kids healthy amid changing COVID guidelines

Aspirus Pediatrician Jason Chan consults with a patient.
Aspirus Health
Aspirus Pediatrician Jason Chan consults with a patient.

After two years of mask requirements and COVID restrictions, health officials across the country are changing COVID guidelines for schools.

But even though COVID-19 cases are dropping dramatically, a record number of kids got infected with the virus in January, putting them at increased risk for long COVID and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

MIS-C is a rare, but serious condition that affects some kids about a month after they get COVID. The first child in Wisconsin recently died from the syndrome.

It’s a reminder that although kids aren’t the most vulnerable to the virus, they can still feel it’s effects, says Aspirus Pediatrician Jason Chan.

“Just like everyone else,” he says, “kids can get sick from COVID-19.”

Chan says the best way to protect kids is to get them vaccinated.

However, he realizes that can be a difficult choice for parents, especially after the Food and Drug Administration delayed its review of the Pfizer vaccine for children under the age of 5.

“The FDA and the medical community at large really want to get this right,” he says. “Part of the issue with the younger kids was that they weren’t getting a big enough response from just the two doses.”

For kids older than 5, Chan says the vaccine is safe and effective.

“Kids are far less likely to get sick if they’ve gotten their vaccine. Not 100 percent,” he says, “but they’re 10 times less likely to get sick from COVID if they’ve gotten their shot. If they do end up getting a case and they’ve been vaccinated, they’re 10 times less likely to be hospitalized. If they end up getting hospitalized, they’re 10 times less likely to die from it.”

“I mean that’s a pretty darn compelling reason to get the vaccine.”

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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