INDIANAPOLIS — A COVID-19 data expert says the best way to keep the virus out of schools this fall is for children to get vaccinated.
Dr. Brian Dixon is the director of public health informatics at the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, which helps advise state health officials.
"I think what we will see in the fall is that most schools will return to normal operations, masks could still be required especially if they haven't been vaccinated by the time school starts but I think we will see quarantining and isolation of cases and less restriction of visitors in schools,” Dixon said.
Dixon said the group seeing rising cases is children and young adults, because those age groups don’t have access to the vaccine or haven’t had access for very long.
“It’s happening to younger people which is really concerning,” Dixon said. “Those age groups that haven’t had access to the vaccine for very long. We are seeing very little activity among people who are 65 and older. Those people who have been vaccinated for a couple of months and not many of them are getting sick and ending up in the hospital.”
Pfizer's two-dose vaccine is available to those 16 and older, and the FDA is preparing to issue emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine to be given to 12-15-year-olds.
Dixon said getting the vaccine for your child better protects your entire family and the school community.
“The best way to keep the virus out of schools is to have kids get vaccinated,” Dixon said. “There's plenty of time between now and next school year to get your child vaccinated once your child their age group is approved for vaccination. That will be the new push that we see this summer is to get kids vaccinated in time to go back to school."
Dixon said while many kids are asymptomatic, getting them the vaccine will help prevent against potential long-term effects.
“We honestly don’t know the long term effects of this disease,” Dixon said. “We will begin studying and following patients for several years. As a parent I would hate to expose my kid to a disease that might have ramifications 5-10 years down the road."
Click here to see Regenstrief's latest data on COVID-19 infections.