KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Children’s Mercy is operating “to capacity,” not only because of COVID-19 cases among youths who aren’t eligible for vaccination, but also due to ending mask policies, according to one pediatric infectious diseases doctor.
“In addition to COVID being able to spread, all these other childhood diseases can start spreading as well,” Dr. Barbara Pahud, of Children’s Mercy, said. “So we are starting to see the RSV virus, for example, which is a virus that normally only circulates in the winter. We're seeing it now, and all the respiratory viruses that we didn't see for a year while we were in quarantine, we're seeing now.”
The Kansas City area, according to Pahud, is having a “very abnormal summer” with winter and summer viruses active simultaneously.
“Kids and adults alike are landing in the hospital because the world is open again,” she said. “That means infectious diseases, not just COVID, are circulating.”
And as school districts throughout the metro determine their COVID-19 policies for the coming year, Dr. Kenny Southwick, with the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City, said parents who want their children vaccinated before school begins, but haven’t begun the vaccination process, are “a little bit behind.”
“The vaccine requires 21 days in between doses," Southwick said, "and the Pfizer vaccine is two doses. So you better go and get it as soon as possible so that your child can be protected before going back to school."
Education leaders have offered mixed guidance from district to district, with some like Blue Valley not requiring masks at all, and others, such as Shawnee Mission, mandating face coverings for elementary-school students.
“If we open schools up without social distancing, without vaccination, without masks, we are going to see problems,” Pahud said. “We're going to see children land in the hospital and that's the last thing that we want to do. This is now a vaccine-preventable disease.”
She also likened COVID-19 patients on ventilators to that of polio patients on iron lungs.
“We don't see those iron lungs because now we use ventilators,” Pahud said, “but I wish we could somehow give people an image of all these people on ventilators, which is the equivalent of iron lungs back then. We're having the same problem we had with polio, with people requiring ventilation and running out of ventilators. So it's time for people to really go out and get vaccinated.”