WASHINGTON — A group of leading doctors and educators has asked the Biden administration to lift pandemic-related measures that could cause children to miss school and other activities.
“We strongly urge you to review the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines regarding testing, isolation and vaccine recommendations for children to ensure public health policies are not doing more harm than good,” says a letter from Urgency of Normal — a group that has advocated a steady return to pre-pandemic behavior — to Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the White House pandemic response team, and Rochelle Walensky, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The CDC’s COVID-19 school guidelines continue to significantly disrupt the education of children and working parents while providing no demonstrable public health benefit in limiting the spread of COVID-19. This policy has serious unintended consequences,” the Urgency of Normal letter said.
The group is led by physicians, including Lucy McBride, a physician from Washington, DC, and Vinay Prasad, an oncologist at the University of California, San Francisco. his efforts have been criticized by some progressivesbut Urgency of Normal leaders have argued vigorously that they have no political agenda.
“We call for an end to vaccine and testing policies that exclude children from normal life,” McBride told Yahoo News in a text message. “Our goal is to help restore confidence in the human immune system, our amazing COVID vaccines and in public health.”
Tuesday’s letter asks the CDC to do away with mass testing of children in locations such as schools and camps in favor of a test-to-treat approach that seeks to identify children who may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. and to ensure that, if those children become ill, they are treated promptly with effective therapies that have become available in recent months.
Urgency of Normal also argues that the CDC should repeal its vaccination recommendation in hopes that more neutral federal guidance would lead to vaccine mandates being dropped.
“CDC recommendations to vaccinate and encourage healthy young people,” the letter says, “have led many schools, colleges, sports organizations and summer programs to require up to three doses of mRNA vaccine regardless of prior infection. Such requirements exclude non- vaccinated children or children who have not been stimulated, out of important opportunities.
However, most doctors are pushing for childhood vaccinations. “The vaccine is safe, effective and the best way to keep our youngest children healthy and safe. We encourage parents everywhere to take action to get their children vaccinated and protected as soon as possible.” dr. Thomas Veverka of the Michigan State Medical Society said Thursday:†
Neither the CDC nor the White House responded to a Yahoo News request for comment.
The letter was sent the same day the White House announced an effort to vaccinate children under the age of 5, following regulatory approval of the vaccine for this youngest cohort.
As of February, three-quarters of all American children had had the coronavirus at least once, before successive waves of Omicron variants further boosted immunity – although it’s not clear how long infection-acquired immunity lasts, especially as the coronavirus continues to evolve.
The school year started with masks made mandatory in schools in many Democrat-controlled regions of the country, but those mandates fell away in the spring. Masking critics celebrated earlier this month New York City has ended a masking requirement for children aged 2 to 4 in daycare and pre-school settings.
Most children do not become seriously ill from the coronavirus, but proponents of safety measures point out that they can pass the pathogen on to other family members. And there are millions of children with severe immune disorders that make them more susceptible to the coronavirus. Their parents fear that the rush to get back to normal carries an unnecessary risk.
“I know everyone is fed up”, wrote Sarah Wildman, whose teenage daughter has undergone cancer treatment as mask mandates and other restrictions were lifted over the spring. “I wonder if it isn’t unfair to insist on others. I am a special request. I am a problem. I like the rules. The more the world opens up, the more I feel cornered. I don’t want us to return to isolation.”
Some are also concerned about the effects of long-term COVID, a poorly understood condition with a variety of possible symptoms.
Still, much of society appears to be moving on, as Tuesday’s letter encourages. “The emergency phase of COVID-19 is over,” it reads. “We call on the CDC to update current guidelines to reflect the era of endemic management in which COVID-19 infections are treated in the same way as other seasonal respiratory viruses, requiring no routine testing or isolation.”