When vaccines are not an option: the lives of families with children under 12
“I feel like there are no good options at this point,” said Adina Ellis, 45, who rolled around in bed for hours the night before classes started this week. in Washington, DC, shaken by indecision over whether to send her 6-year-old son Cassius.
Ms Ellis lost her father to Covid-19 last year and was part of a group of parents calling on the mayor to allow distance learning. But like some other major cities, Washington requires almost all students to be in person this year.
On the first day of school, Ms Ellis got up before dawn, sat on her porch with her husband, and made a “play time decision,” she said, to drop her off. son at school. Watching him climb the stairs, wearing a Hot Wheels backpack, part of her resigned herself to the possibility that he was infected.
“This thought will haunt me as long as he goes to school unvaccinated,” she said.
Data on coronavirus cases in children is imperfect, but according to most accounts, serious illness has been rare.
Throughout the pandemic, less than 2 in 100 cases of Covid-19 in children resulted in hospitalization, and less than 3 in 10,000 cases resulted in death, according to state-level data analyzed by the ‘American Academy of Pediatrics. Since many asymptomatic cases in children may go undetected, the risk may be lower.
But the Delta variant added a new wrinkle that is not yet fully understood.
More children are now falling seriously ill, as hospitals fill up with coronavirus patients, mostly unvaccinated. Delta is roughly twice as infectious as the original virus, leading to more infections overall, and researchers are trying to understand if it’s more serious as well. A recent study found that Delta is more likely to cause hospitalizations. Some children have also developed long-term debilitating cases of Covid, even after initially mild or asymptomatic infections.