How to get children the medical care they need now and in the future

Shetal Shah, MD, FAAP

Shetal Shah, MD, FAAP

Tina Cheng, MD, MPH, FAAP

Tina Cheng, MD, MPH, FAAP

Dr. Shetal Shah MD, FAAP is neonatologist at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and Immediate Past President of the NYS AAP-Chapter 2.  He is Chair of the Pediatric Policy Council.  Dr. Tina Cheng, MD, MPH, FAAP is the B.K. Rachford Memorial Chair of Pediatrics, Chief Medical Officer, and Research Foundation Director of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.  She is a member of the Pediatric Policy Council representing the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs (AMSPDC).  This op-ed was published in Tampa Bay Times on August 20th, 2021.

As we emerge from the pandemic, pediatric clinicians will have to make up for time lost to child well-being and health over the last 18 months.  Five million children face chronic medical conditions or special health care needs, and 20 percent of parents report that their children’s mental health has worsened.  Since last March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate children have missed over 11 million routine vaccines.  This includes 1.4 million measles vaccines – risking outbreaks like the one in 2019 that infected more than 1,200 individuals.

These unmet needs will require a surge of pediatric clinicians – yet we already face a longstanding shortage of pediatric specialists.  Shortages exist in both general pediatrics and in subspecialties like rheumatology and child psychiatry.  And the trained clinicians we have tend to cluster in major cities.  The resulting rural health care “deserts” force families in some states to travel hundreds of miles to see a pediatric specialist.

Our own states of New York and Ohio feature world-class children’s hospitals, but also a dearth of specialists in many communities.  Further limiting access to care, many general pediatricians and child psychiatrists don’t take Medicaid, the nation’s largest insurer of children, because of low payments.

Addressing these challenges requires a three-part strategy.  We must invest in clinical training, attract physicians to work in the geographic areas and specialties of greatest need, and fix the problem of Medicaid under-payment.  Only then will we ensure that every child who needs care can reasonably obtain it.

Increasing the number of pediatric clinicians should be a national priority.  This year, the national Pediatric Policy Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics are requesting $485 million in federal support for training the next generation of children’s doctors – a small amount compared to the $16 billion spent to train adult specialists.

For more than 20 years, the federal government has supported training the next generation of doctors through the Children’s Health Graduate Medical Education Program.  Yet, funding for this program has been neither sufficient nor equitable.  Funding has not kept pace with inflation, and currently is less than half, per doctor, the amount allocated to train physicians who will specialize in adult care.  Despite growing child health need there has been a relative decline in the number of pediatric doctors.

The most effective way to incentivize doctors to train in under-staffed pediatric specialties is through federal loan forgiveness or repayment subsidies.  Graduating medical students face, on average, over $230,000 in educational debt; for one in five, the amount exceeds $300,000.  Such burdensome debt dissuades many from pursuing pediatrics, which is among the lowest paying specialties in the medical field.

Unlike the world of adult care, a pediatrician in specialized fields such as cardiology or oncology will often earn less than a community general pediatrician – even though they have at least 3 additional years of post-medical-school training.  One study found that, over the course of a career, such specialists can earn up to $1.6 million less than if they had entered a general pediatrics private practice.  The same study found that even a partial loan repayment program would significantly offset the financial burden doctors incur when pursuing specialized training.

But boosting the supply of pediatricians will be only a partial solution unless we also fix the problem of Medicaid payments and maldistribution.  For the nearly 40 percent of America’s children who rely on it, finding a doctor that will accept Medicaid payments can be impossible.  Medicaid pays, on average, 72 percent of the Medicare rate for all services, 66 percent for primary care services.

In some states, the Medicaid rate is 33 percent of Medicare’s, which makes it difficult to sustain a practice.  It is imperative that there exist minimum national standards to ensure that U.S. children and young adults in need of publicly funded health insurance have equitable access to affordable, timely, quality, and comprehensive health care through Medicaid and related programs, and that there be parity of Medicaid payments to Medicare.

Although children account for only a small percentage of health care spending, they represent 100 percent of our future.  In an era when chronic childhood diseases are on the rise, raising healthy children increasingly relies on pediatric trained clinical specialists.  Without strong support for their training and a plausible path through the financial hurdles of medical education, we risk a future in which growing numbers of sick children have no doctor to care for them.

Pediatricians Urge Masks for All Children in School

Eve Meltzer-Krief MD, FAAP

Eve Meltzer-Krief MD, FAAP

Sara Siddiqui, MD, FAAP

Sara Siddiqui, MD, FAAP

Dr. Eve Meltzer-Krief MD, FAAP is a pediatrician in Huntington and Co-Chair of the NYS AAP-Chapter 2 Legislative Advocacy Committee.  Dr. Sara Siddiqui, MD, FAAP is pediatrician and Co-Chair of the NYS AAP-Chapter 2 Legislative Advocacy Committee. This op-ed was published on Huntington Now on August 8th, 2021.

What if there was a deadly virus that had already killed hundreds of children – over four times more than during a typical flu season? (1, 2)

What if that virus had hospitalized thousands of children, leaving many of them with long-term health complications? (3)

What if that virus was mutating to a now twice-as-contagious version, readily finding children still too young to get vaccinated or whose parents are vaccine-hesitant or flat-out refuse to vaccinate their vulnerable children?

What if that virus had caused an 84% spike in pediatric cases in the last week alone and was filling pediatric intensive care units to capacity across the country with critically ill children?  And, what if that virus was in the community where you live with local rates rising exponentially – wouldn’t you want to do everything you could to protect your child?  Wouldn’t you want experts in public health and pediatrics to determine the most effective ways to keep your child safe?

There is such a virus.  It is, of course, Covid-19.  And serious cases among unvaccinated children are escalating.  This is fact.  Medical fact that is easily confirmed by researching non-biased and reputable medical and scientific sources.  As our children return to school in a matter of a few short weeks, experts advise that children two-years-old and up wear masks inside schools to keep them safe from Covid.

Public health decisions designed to keep children healthy and safe should not be made by superintendents and school districts without direct consultation with, and confirmation by, reputable medical health experts. Period. They should not be determined by popular demand or by the loudest voice in the room.

Long before Covid, pediatricians have been the trusted source of advice for parents about how to keep children healthy and safe.  With the advent of vaccination, pediatricians like ourselves see far fewer deaths and seriously ill children today than generations before us.

Parents used to fear diseases like polio and measles that could kill their children or leave them with permanent disabilities.   Widespread vaccination has eliminated those fears.

A large part of what we do as pediatricians is preventive: preventing injury by teaching parents how to properly use car seats, by educating parents to place sleeping infants on their backs, by counseling pre-teens about the dangers of vaping before they start, by encouraging vaccination to protect against vaccine-preventable disease.  We have dedicated our lives to and are passionate about the health and well-being of our young patients.

There is nothing more tragic than the death or injury of a child that could have been prevented; nothing that tears apart a family more than a child’s serious illness, injury or death that did not have to happen, that could have been prevented if only medical advice had been heeded.

We know that vaccinating all eligible adults and children will help protect children still too young to get vaccinated.  We know that wearing masks inside school prevents transmission of Covid (4) and worked last year to keep levels of Covid in schools the same as or lower than community rates.  Pediatricians across the country are raising the alarm that without universal masking in schools this year, we will continue to see an exponential rise in pediatric Covid infections that will have devastating consequences.

Pediatricians want our children back in school but we want them back safely.  Despite the misinformation circulating about mask-wearing in young children, the good news is that the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have determined that mask-wearing is safe for children. (5)

Mask wearing does not cause carbon dioxide poisoning, oxygen deprivation, colonization with deadly bacteria, or weakened immune systems.  We understand these parental concerns and continue to work to debunk this troublesome misinformation.(6)

Along with pediatricians and public health experts across the country, we urge parents to vaccinate their vaccine-eligible children against Covid.  Speaking from science, we demand that school superintendents and school boards across the country follow the recommendations of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and local health departments advising that children wear masks inside schools.  Our ultimate responsibility is to the children.  Their health and well being is in our hands.



COVID-19 Vaccinations: Potential Adverse Event with Vaccination in Adolescents

Sanjivan V. Patel, MD, FAAP

Sanjivan V. Patel, MD, FAAP

Sanjivan Patel, MD, FAAP
Chairman, Department of Pediatrics
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

Kyle Russell DO, PGY3
Chief Pediatric Resident
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

Myocarditis and Pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccination: Reviewing Risk and Recommendations

On May 10, 2021, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines became approved to be given to adolescent teens by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after trials showed good efficacy in the ages of 12-15.  This marked the first available vaccination for this age group as the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines were still in the trial phase.  Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, the widening of access to vaccinations to younger and younger age groups marks the next stage in the fight towards controlling the spread of COVID-19.  However, in a recent release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), news of increased incidence of myocarditis and pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccination was reported around the time of the expansion of availability to this age group.1  This information has caught the eyes of many pediatricians who can now offer their adolescent patients the vaccine.  In this post, it is important to review the reported risks of myocarditis and pericarditis associated with the COVID-19 vaccine as well as the CDC recommendations to administering the vaccine to our adolescent population.

With the multitude of complications that occur with COVID-19 infections, acute cardiovascular complications are not excluded. In both adults and children affected by COVID-19, myocarditis and pericarditis are two of the included complications.  In a case series study by Tao Guo et al, myocardial injuries resulting from COVID-19 were shown to result in fatal consequences due to cardiac dysfunction and arrhythmias.2  In a meta-analysis by Raghavan et al. looking at 1,527 patients over 6 studies, it was found that around 8% of inpatients were reported with acute cardiomyopathy. In children, there have been studies showing increased risk of myocarditis after COVID-19 infections due to the “multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children” (MIS-C).  In a review article by Yuyi et al. collecting 48 articles on MIS-C, it was found that myocarditis was the most found radiologic finding on echocardiogram with 61% of the cases examined.4

With increased availability for adolescent teens to the COVID-19 vaccine, the news of increased incidence of myocarditis and pericarditis especially in the male population has been brought to light.  As of June 23, 2021, the CDC listed more than 1000  reports of myocarditis and pericarditis, with 616 of the cases seen among people ages 30 and younger who received COVID-19 vaccines with confirmation of 393 of these cases.5  These cases were found after one of the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. CDC further found that cases were reported:

  • Mostly in male adolescent and young adults age 16 years and older.
  • More often after the second dose of one of the two COVID-19 mRNA vaccines than after the first dose
  • Typically within several days after COVID-19 vaccination1

CDC also reported that patients who did receive care for this adverse effect responded well to medicine and rest and quickly recovered.

Despite these current findings of increased incidence of myocarditis and pericarditis potentially due to the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, CDC recommendations remain firm for offering the vaccine to the adolescent population. In the latest virtual town hall held by the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murphy, M.D., M.B.A, stated that the overall number of cases did not outweigh the benefits of vaccination, stating that “when you compare the risk of cardiac complications among adolescents who have had COVID-19 vs. the numbers that we’re seeing here, it is very clear to us at this point in time that the benefits still outweigh the risk when it comes to vaccination.”6

Recommendations from the CDC include:

  • Continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 12 years of age and older given the greater risk of other serious complications related to COVID-19, such as hospitalization, MIS-C, or death.
  • Report all cases of myocarditis and pericarditis post COVID-19 vaccination to Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
  • Consider myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescent or young adults with acute chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations as coronary events are less likely to be a source of symptoms
  • Ask about prior COVID-19 vaccination if you identify these symptoms
  • For initial evaluation, consider an Electrocardiogram, troponin level, and inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. In the setting of normal ECG, troponin, and inflammatory markets, myocarditis or pericarditis are unlikely.
  • For suspected cases, consider consultation with cardiology for assistance with cardiac evaluation and management.
  • For follow-up of patients with myocarditis, consult the recommendations from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology
  • Rule out other potential causes of myocarditis and pericarditis. Consider consultation with infectious disease and/or rheumatology to assist in evaluation1


  1. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases (2021, May 27). Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination.  Retrieved June 23, 2021,
  2. Guo T, Fan Y, Chen M, Wu X, Zhang L, He T, Wang H, Wan J, Wang X, Lu Z. Cardiovascular Implications of Fatal Outcomes of Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). JAMA Cardiol. 2020 Jul 1;5(7):811-818. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1017.  Erratum in: JAMA Cardiol. 2020 Jul 1;5(7):848. PMID: 32219356; PMCID: PMC7101506.
  3. Raghavan S, Gayathri R, Kancharla S, Kolli P, Ranjitha J, Shankar V. Cardiovascular Impacts on COVID-19 Infected Patients.  Front Cardiovasc Med. 2021;8:670659. Published 2021 May 13. doi:10.3389/fcvm.2021.670659
  4. Tang Y, Li W, Baskota M, et al. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: a systematic review of published case studies. Transl Pediatr. 2021;10(1):121-135. doi:10.21037/tp-20-188
  5. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases (2021, June 11). Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination.  Retrieved June 23, 2021,
  6. Korioth T. (2021, June 11). Surgeon general addresses myocarditis, pediatricians’ role in COVID-19 vaccination efforts Retrieved June 14, 2021,

Telehealth in Pediatrics

Robert Lee, DO, FAAP

Robert Lee, DO, FAAP

(Dr. Robert Lee, DO, MS, FAAP is a pediatrician and Associate Pediatric Residency Program Director at NYU Langone Hospital – Long Island.  He is the Chair for the AAP Section on Osteopathic Pediatricians, Vice President for NYS AAP Chapter 2, and Co-Chair of the NYS AAP Chapter 2 Foster/Kinship Care Committee.)

 Telehealth during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The AAP believes the best place for infants, children, and adolescents to receive preventative services and problem-oriented care is at a pediatrician’s office.  Telehealth or “virtual visits” with the pediatrician using technologies such as live, interactive audio and video became an option and necessity during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic with stay-at-home orders and families not wanting to engage with others.  Pediatricians were able to leverage telehealth with the relaxation of regulations and adequate payments in order to sustain their businesses.

According to Physician Xpress, the average total visit count per pediatric office was 52% less in April 2020 as compared to April 2019.  Of the total visits in April 2020, the average pediatric office had 40% of visits conducted via telehealth.  As the economy opened and children/parents started to engage in activities, the average total in-person visits each month increased, however, it was still 5% less overall compared to 2019.  The percentage of visits each months that were telehealth also reduced each month.  In September 2020, ~8% of total visits were telehealth although many practices reported having less than 3% of their visits as telehealth.

This percentage of telehealth visits is similar here in New York Chapter 2 as well.  Pediatricians who I spoke to in January 2021 reported between 5-10% of total visits were telehealth.

Future of Telehealth

In an independent study reported in Healthcare IT News, 92% of pediatricians believe that telehealth will remain part of pediatric practices in the future. All of the 787 pediatricians who responded to the survey reported currently using a telemedicine platform, with 96% saying they offered telehealth during regular business hours.

More than 60% of respondents reported that families and patients find it relatively easy to use.  The number-one factor that is driving the use of telehealth in pediatric practices is patient demand.  Other factorssuch asstate levelpayment parityand revenue potential have been driving adoption.

The most common types of visits that lend themselves to telehealth include behavioral/mental health concerns, simple sick visits (e.g. URI, rashes, or pinkeye), refills for medication, and chronic condition check-ins.

The majority of respondents conducted telehealth on an app on their smartphone.Respondents reported that they would seek EHR integration, connectivity, price and flexible workflows from telemedicine platforms in the future.  Respondents also say they would love to see peripheral device integrations, translation services during visits, documentation and platform availability in multiple languages. And respondents say audio-visual quality, ease of use and connectivity, flexible workflows and live support are essential technical components that affect both patients and pediatricians.

AAP Chapter Telehealth ECHO Project 

The AAP Chapter Telehealth ECHO project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $6,000,000.  AAP Chapter 2 is a recipient of the grant and we just completed a 3-month tele-mentoring program with expert faculty team from AAP Chapters 2 and 3.  Over the six sessions, AAP Chapters 2 and 3 members learned through didactic and case-based presentations on a wide range of topics to help pediatricians incorporate best practices for telehealth.  All the didactic video recordings are available.


Telehealth will never be the right answer for all pediatric visits.  There are times when pediatricians still need to perform a comprehensive physical exam and administer immunizations.  If the relaxation of regulations and adequate payments become permanent, telehealth can become an integral part of the medical home.  And if telehealth is here to stay then pediatricians have to increase their knowledge, competency, and self-efficacy regarding the use of telehealth to provide care within the medical home.


  1. AAP Telehealth Support Compendium
  2. Northeast Telehealth Resource Center

Pediatrician’s Role in Eliminating Racism in Care for Children and Adolescent Health

Michael Kho, DO

Michael Kho, DO

Michael Kho, DO,  is a PGY1 resident at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

“We must dismantle racism at every level, from individual to institutional to systemic,” stated pastAAP President Sara “Sally” H. Goza, M.D., FAAP on June 1, 2020 one week after the killing of George Floyd.In August 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement entitled, The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health.  In this policy, the state of racism which children and parents may face from the school to the clinic was analyzed, and the AAP expressed urgency in combating racism as pediatricians.  The policy also provided guidance and advice for pediatricians to improve our own practices to counsel families, improve our as staff, and better our community to better ensure that all patients are treated with respect and free of bias.2

However, since the publication of the policy, the US has continued to face numerous challenges involving racism.  From the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, the death of Breonna Taylor, the killing of George Floyd, and the increase of racially-driven attacks on the Asian community due to the COVID-19 pandemic, racism has continued to show how prevalent it remains in our society.  With increased visibility through social media and the internet, more and more incidences of racism have been sparking conversations and movements across the nation.  As this movement for activism and the fight for equality in the US continue, now is a good time to review the impact of racism on children and adolescent health and the AAP policy statement to reaffirm the need for improvement to better treat our patients, families, and communities.

Racism has been identified as a core determinant of health that has been found to be associated with poorer mental health, physical health, and general health.In children and adolescents, the impact of racism has been linked to complications from birth throughout development.  Studies have shown that racial disparities have resulted in low birth weights and increased infant mortality rates due to perceived racial discrimination and maternal stress.Throughout their school years, children may be exposed to incidences of racism through school teachers or fellow schoolmates both implicitly and explicitly.  These early incidents can lead to permanent impact in forming social connections as well as damage a child’s mental health.  Even children who were not directly exposed to explicit racism, but rather a bystander to racism and other forms of victimization have been shown to have psychological and physiological effects later in life as well.As these children face continued exposure to these stressors, they can produce increased stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can predispose these children to chronic disease.With all of the potential exposure to racism throughout childhood, and with the consequences that come with each event, it is our job as physicians to both address and ease these effects.

In AAP’s 2019 policy, a series of guidelines were provided for physicians to improve racial sensitivity within our clinical practices, professional education, as well as in our community.

For our own clinical practices, some strategies provided by the AAP are to:

  • Create a culturally safe medical home where providers acknowledge and are sensitive to racism that children and families experience.
  • Use strategies such as the Raising Resisters approach during anticipatory guidance to provide support for youth and families to recognize racism in all forms, differentiate racism from other forms of unfair treatment and/or routine developmental stressors, safely oppose negative messages and/or behaviors of others, and counter or replace those messages and experiences with something positive.
  • Train clinical and office staff in culturally competent care.
  • Assess patient for stressors and social determinants of health often associated with racism.
  • Assess patients reporting to have experienced racism for mental health conditions with validated screening tools and a trauma-informed approach.2

For Professional education and Workforce Development:

  • Advocate for pediatric training programs that are girded by competencies and sub-competencies related to effective patient and family communication across differences in pediatric populations.
  • Encourage policies to foster interactive learning communities to promote cultural humility and provide simulation opportunities.
  • Integrate active learning strategies such as simulation and language immersion.
  • Advocate for policies and programs that diversify the pediatric workforce and provide ongoing professional education for pediatricians in practice to reduce implicit biases.2

For Community engagement, advocacy, and public policy:

  • Engage community leaders to create safe playgrounds and healthy food markets to reduce disparities in obesity and undernutrition in neighborhoods affected by poverty.
  • Advocate for improvement in the quality of education in segregated urban, suburban, and rural communities.
  • Support local educational systems by connecting with and supporting school staff.
  • Advocate for federal and local policies that support implicit-bias training in schools and robust training of educators in culturally competent classroom management.
  • Advocate for increased access to support for mental health services in schools.
  • Advocate for curricula that are multicultural, multilingual, and reflective of the communities in which children in their practices attend school.
  • Advocate for policies and programs that diversify the teacher workforce to mitigate effects of current demographic mismatch of teachers and students.
  • Advocate for evidence-based programs that combat racism in the education setting.2

As physicians, it is our duty to create an environment to provide quality care to every patient regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, disability, or any other feature.  Despite our continued efforts, there remains room for improvement as explicit or implicit biases may remain while treating our patients.  As racism can impact a child and adolescent’s overall health both psychiatrically and physically, we must continue to review and improve ways to eliminate all forms of bias and racism in our practice and the community in which we serve.


  1. Jenco, M. (2021, March 05). ‘Dismantle racism at EVERY level’: AAP President.  Retrieved March 10, 2021, from
  2. Trent M, Dooley DG, Dougé J; SECTION ON ADOLESCENT HEALTH; COUNCIL ON COMMUNITY PEDIATRICS; COMMITTEE ON ADOLESCENCE. The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health. Pediatrics. 2019 Aug;144(2):e20191765. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-1765. PMID: 31358665
  3. Paradies Y, Ben J, Denson N, et al. Racism as a determinant of health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2015;10(9):e0138511pmid:26398658
  4. Beck, A. F., Edwards, E. M., Horbar, J. D., Howell, E. A., McCormick, M. C., &Pursley, D. M. (2020). The color of health: how racism, segregation, and inequality affect the health and well-being of preterm infants and their families. Pediatric research87(2), 227–234.
  5. Janson GR, Hazler RJ. Trauma reactions of bystanders and victims to repetitive abuse experiences. Violence Vict. 2004;19(2):239–255pmid:15384457
  6. Cohen S,Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, et al. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. ProcNatlAcadSci USA. 2012;109(16):5995–5999pmid:22474371

Vaccination Against COVID-19 and a MIS-C Update

Asif Noor, MD, FAAP

Asif Noor, MD, FAAP

Theresa Fiorito, MD, FAAP

Theresa Fiorito, MD, FAAP

Dr. Asif Noor, MD, FAAP is a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at NYU Winthrop Hospital and he co-chairs the Infectious Disease Committee of the NYS AAP Chapter 2)

Dr. Theresa Fiorito, MD, FAAP is a member of the Infectious Disease Society of America, Society for Pediatric Research, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the International Society of Travel Medicine with a Certificate in Travel Health.

An entire year has elapsed since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection in New York. Pediatricians were in the forefront of an uphill battle during the spring outbreak and continue battling COVID-19 during the winter months.

Although children were largely spared, pediatricians encountered multiple challenges to which they responded methodically.  Whether it was protecting a newborn from maternal COVID-19, providing care to sick children in the office setting, dealing with mental health issues associated with the pandemic, or managing a novel condition in children, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), pediatricians promptly adapted.

On December 11, 2020, the FDA granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech.  As of February 6th, 2021, 59 million doses have been manufactured and 39 million have been administered in the U.S. Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to the high-risk groups identified by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) based on the ethical principles of initial allocation. This includes pediatricians.  Many of us are thankful to receive it immediately after the EUA, particularly if we were associated with a hospital or medical center.  However, many of us working in an office witnessed firsthand the uncoordinated vaccine distribution with no clear guidance.

Children under 18 years comprise a quarter of the U.S. population and their immunization is vital to attain a goal of herd immunity.  Pediatricians are commonly questioned on the availability of COVID-19 vaccine in children.  The pediatric population needs to be immunized to not only protect them directly, but also to indirectly insulate the most vulnerable populations.

We, the pediatricians, serve as the primary advocate to deliver a clear and compassionate message on vaccine safety and efficacy.  Conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials in children is imperative alongside the vaccine rollout to the elderly and most vulnerable populations.

In this blog, we will review the basics of COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine eligibility, vaccination in pregnancy& lactating persons, vaccination in children, and an update on MIS-C.

COVID Vaccine: Pipeline

As of February 6, 2020, there are 67 vaccine candidates in human trials, with 4 vaccines fully approved for use worldwide. In the United States, the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna are currently being utilized.

Vaccine target: The major antigenic target for COVID-19 is the large surface spike protein.  This antigen allows the virus to bind to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) on the host cell and induce membrane transfusion.  A vaccine that can induce antibodies against the receptor binding protein of spike protein can prevent attachment to the host cell and neutralize the virus.

Vaccine platforms:COVID-19 vaccines are being developed using different platforms. As pediatricians, we are familiar with the traditional approaches applied to inactivated vaccine (e.g. inactivated influenza) and live vaccine (e.g. measles) technology.  The genetic sequence of COVID-19 published on January 11, 2020, led to a rapid emergence of new vaccine research and collaboration. It paved the path for the first two vaccine candidates currently authorized for use in the United States, using an mRNA platform.  Other vaccine candidates use replication–incompetent vector vaccines, recombinant protein vaccines, etc.

COVID-19 vaccines in the United States

Approved vaccines

Upcoming vaccine candidates


BNT 162b2





Johnson & Johnson



NVX-CoV 2373



Platform mRNA mRNA Adenovirus 26 Chimpanzee adenovirus Recombinant nanoparticle

2 doses,

21 days apart

2 doses,

28 days apart

Single dose

2 doses,

28 days apart

2 doses,

21 days apart

Efficacy 95% 94.1%


phase III in U.S.

70.4 %

phase III in U.K and Brazil

89.3 %

phase III in U.K


mRNA technology: The mRNA is delivered in lipid vesicles. After administration, the mRNA is translated into the target protein which is intended to elicit an immune response.  The mRNA does not enter the nucleus or interact with host DNA.  The normal cellular processes degrade it quickly.

Immunogenicity and efficacy: Phase 2 (small scale immunogenicity, safety and efficacy trials) and phase 3 trials (large-scale safety and efficacy trials) have demonstrated the production of neutralizing antibody responses comparable to those in convalescent plasma from patients with asymptomatic to moderate COVID-19 infection.  Clinical trials have demonstrated vaccine efficacy of 95 and 94.1% in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna studies, respectively, in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection after receipt of 2 doses.

Reactogencity (reactions that occur soon after vaccination; a physical manifestation of response): There are no serious safety concerns.  All vaccines elicit systemic adverse effects or reactogenicity such as fevers, chills, headaches, fatigue, and/or myalgias in a small portion of participants.  Most adverse effects are mild to moderate, and occur in the first 3 days after receiving the vaccine.  Symptoms are more frequent after the second dose, and in younger persons compared to older recipients.  Antipyretics or analgesics may be taken for post-vaccination local or systemic symptoms, however, routine prophylactic administration is not currently recommended.

Anaphylaxis following vaccination has been reported in an approximate rate of 5 events per 1 million doses. Out of these cases, 80% occurred in persons with a history of anaphylaxis, and 90% occurred within 30 minutes of vaccine receipt.

Vaccine effectiveness against variants: In the Pfizer/BioNTech cohort, the plasma from vaccinated clinical trial participants appeared to maintain neutralizing activity against the B.1.1.7, or the U.K. variant strain.  It also neutralized virus containing the key mutations in the B.1.351, or the South African variant, however the neutralizing titers were lower with South African strain.   Similar results have been found in Moderna’s in vitro neutralization studies.

COVID vaccine: Pregnant and lactating women

There are currently no safety data available on COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant persons. Data extrapolated from animal studies did not demonstrate any safety concerns in pregnant rats receiving the Moderna vaccine. Studies in pregnant animal models receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are ongoing; it is of note that during the Pfizer/BioNTech clinical trials in humans, 23 persons became pregnant after receiving the vaccine, and to date, no adverse effects in these patients have been reported.

While absolute risk is low, pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection.  They may also be at increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as preterm labor. As per the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant or lactating individuals if they are part of a group recommended to receive the vaccine (e.g., health care personnel, essential workers).  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ACIP also recommend that pregnant or lactating persons within eligible populations be offered the COVID-19 vaccine.  The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SFM) advocates for all pregnant persons to have access to COVID-19 vaccines.

These organizations emphasize the importance of shared clinical-decision making; the decision for pregnant persons to get vaccinated should be based on an individual’s unique risk for infection.  For example, someone who is able to work from home through the entirety of the pregnancy has a low exposure risk, and may want to wait to get vaccinated until after the birth of the child.

Those trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after receipt of COVID-19 vaccination, nor is there any evidence that COVID-19 vaccination has any effect on fertility.

COVID vaccine: Children

Currently, the Pfizer-BioNtech mRNA vaccine is approved for ages 16 and up, and the Moderna mRNAvaccine is approved for ages 18 and up.

There is currently no COVID-19 vaccine available for children under age 16. However, studies in pediatric populations are ongoing.  Moderna is currently enrolling patients for a phase 2/3 randomized study to evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and reactogenicity in those 12-18 years of age. Pfizer is conducting a similar study in those 12-15 years of age.   Results of clinical trials on children under age 12 for both vaccines will likely take much longer, as dosing adjustments for age will need to be made.  AstraZeneca, whose COVID-19 vaccine is not yet approved in the United States (but is approved for use in the U.K.), also plans to commence clinical trials for those ages 5-18 years.  It is of note that obtaining study patients under age 12 is currently proving difficult; parents are finding it hard to justify enrolling their children in these trials.  While there is clearer evidence of spread of COVID-19 among teenaged children, transmission has been reported in those as young as age 8.  Given the accelerated nature of vaccine development, there is a preponderance of misinformation circulating, particularly online, regarding vaccine safety, which can contribute to skepticism and vaccine hesitancy.  As a pediatrician, we can identify concerns, educate patients on vaccine risks and benefits, and dispel the myths.  The most effective intervention against vaccine hesitancy is communication by a primary care provider.

Winter outbreak and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C):  The initial emergence of MIS-C in New York was observed in May and June of 2020.  This preceded the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic in New York by 1-2 months.  In winter, a similar trend of MIS-C cases is being observed in January and February of 2021.

Much has been learned about the wide spectrum of clinical presentations and management of MIS-C.  Presentation ranges from a shock–like picture, to a Kawasaki disease-like presentation, to milder forms with brief febrile illnesses.  The median age of patients is 9 years.  All of them have fever, 88% have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, 60% have a rash, and 50% have conjunctivitis.  Children with fever ≥ 4 days without any source, with either GI symptoms, rash, conjunctivitis, oral mucosal changes, extremity changes, neurological symptoms, or lymphadenitis should be evaluated for MIS-C.

Some interventions such as intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG)and/or prophylactic antithrombotic therapy are appropriate for most children presenting with moderate to severe disease, regardless of the dominant type of presentation. Children presenting with Kawasaki-type disease should receive standard therapies for Kawasaki disease such as IVIG and aspirin.  Children with cardiac involvement may present with arrhythmia and hemodynamic compromise.  Although IVIG can be used in myocarditis, the conclusive evidence of benefit is lacking.  In addition, based on severity of illness, low-dose methylprednisolone (2 mg/kg/day twice daily) or pulse steroids (30 mg/kg/day for three days) should be considered in hospitalized children.

Over the next 1 to 2 months, pediatricians should stay vigilant in triaging febrile illnesses that may be consistent with MIS-C in the office setting.



COVID-19 Pandemic: The Effect on Well-Being of Children

Sanjivan V. Patel, MD, FAAP

Sanjivan V. Patel, MD, FAAP


Sanjivan Patel, MD, FAAP
Chairman, Department of Pediatrics
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center


Kyle Russell, DO, PGY3
Chief Pediatric Resident


The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially difficult for children despite mortality being lower than that of adults.  Specifically for children, they have had to deal with loss of loved ones, the stress of quarantine, and ever changing school landscape.  An overwhelming sense of fear and unknowing is present in these children, as none of them have had to deal with a pandemic of this nature and were unprepared for the difficulties of a global pandemic.  While the medical ramifications of Sars-CoV2 are rightfully the focus of the country, we have failed to acknowledge the significant psychiatric effects of this virus.

At the time of this publishing, there are over 23 million cases and more than 385,000 deaths attributed to COVID across the country.  Out of those 23 million, there are also hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who now have long term or lifelong morbidity due to this disease.  The worldwide death toll just hit over 2 million lives lost.  Children, if not affected themselves, are forced to come to terms with family members, many young or healthy, that have succumbed to this disease.  Often times, these are parents, grandparents, or other loved ones. In some cases, children have had entire households of their family die from COVID.  At a time that we are unable to see these family members before they pass or to attend funerals, it is even more difficult for children to cope with loss of loved ones.

Being isolated with family is extremely difficult for children and adults alike, even in ideal circumstances.  As many of us have found out, being isolated with family members for extended periods of time can be stressful for relationships.  The small living spaces in New York only exacerbate the high stress, as well as the potential infectivity for families.  However, there are many more cases where children are in less than ideal situations such as living with abuse, in subpar living conditions, or other unsafe conditions.  In these cases, being home is stressful and dangerous as is.  Due to shelter in place laws and quarantine, these children are being forced to spend additional time in these conditions is even more harmful for them.

In years past, school has been a constant in children’s lives.  However, this year, school has been nonexistent or vastly different than in the past.  As many of families know, it is exceedingly difficult to juggle online schooling.  New York’s cramped living spaces, parents working from home, having small children unable to work computers, and families without access to computers or internet all combine to make an extremely stressful and sometimes near impossible school experience.  Some children have difficulties learning online and also suffer from not being in the classroom.  Children also miss out on developing social skills with other children.  Classes such as gym and music also suffer when taught online.  When children were in school, resources such as in class teachers or helpers were decreased and children were unable to take advantage of the full resources as typical classes used to be.  Despite all the precautions taken, the spread of cases between children and to teachers was still a looming threat.  Children with special needs suffered the most from online or part time school.  Routines the additional resources offered to them were cut off, making it more difficult for them to learn and even more difficult for parents to take care of them at home, often while trying to work remotely themselves.

The number of children experiencing psychiatric symptoms has increased during the pandemic.  Young children have shown signs of psychiatric problems, such as inattentiveness, poor appetites, disturbed sleep, nightmares, more clinginess to caregivers, and significant separation problems1.  Children across the globe had increased rates of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms from the pandemic than before2,3,4.  Similar to the long-term and possibly lifelong physical effects of COVID-19, we may see significant psychiatric effects on children and adults alike for long-term periods.

However, there are some resources for parents and children alike to aid them during these difficult times.  PBS provides parents with online resources to help teach children how to cope with these times6.  Likewise, Child Trends recommends the following to support and protect children’s emotional well-being during the pandemic5.

  • Understand that reactions to the pandemic may vary
  • Ensure the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver
  • Social distancing should not mean social isolation
  • Provide age-appropriate information
  • Create a safe physical and emotional environment by practicing the 3 R’s: Reassurance, Routines, and Regulation
  • Keep children busy
  • Increase children’s self-efficacy
  • Create opportunities for caregivers to take care of themselves
  • Seek professional help if children show signs of trauma that do not resolve relatively quickly
  • Emphasize strengths, hope, and positivity
  • Age appropriate yoga, mindfulness, or other forms of meditation

While COVID-19 has obviously ravaged this country with deaths and other medical morbidities, we have failed at acknowledging the psychiatric effects on the pediatric populations. Through age-appropriate teaching and facts, we can help to educate and prepare children for what is going on around them.  However, we need to be quick to refer these children to proper psychiatric help when deemed necessary.


Five Steps Toward Becoming an Anti-Racist Pediatrician

Carley Gomes, MD

Carley Gomes, MD, FAAP


Carly Gomes, MD, FAAP, is a Neonatologist at Stony Brook Medical Center.  She serves as the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Chair for New York Chapter 2

This year’s virtual American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition (NCE) featured perspectives of leading researchers and child health advocates on the adverse health and social/behavioral outcomes impacting non-white children and their families.  Systemic racism in the United States influences social determinants of health and contributes to inequities in health among minority children.  Although the clearest path towards improving the health outcomes of children of color would be to abolish racism, this is an overwhelming task to consider.  How do you begin to dismantle systemic racism when it is so ingrained in societal norms?  What can pediatricians do to elicit change and be advocates for minority children?

The AAP has taken the crucial first steps towards abolishing racism by formally identifying racism as an independent driver for health inequity in children and by apologizing for our organization’s own racist history.  Although many other medical groups have released statements addressing racial health disparities, the AAP is among the few to publicly acknowledge past discriminatory practices and the harm these institutional actions caused.

Through this process of recognition and reconciliation, the AAP has established itself as an anti-racist organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of all children.  As pediatricians and members of the AAP we can also do our part to establish ourselves as anti-racist health-care providers.

Below are 5 tips to get you started.

  1. Increase your exposure to different types of people and experiences.  Surround yourself with diversity.  This can be as simple as trying foods from different countries or learning about holiday traditions in other cultures.  Take a critical look at your social media profiles and photos to see who your friends and acquaintances are.  Though it’s comforting to associate with individuals with similar backgrounds and interests, challenge yourself to interact with someone very different from yourself.
  2. Self-reflect and identify your own biases.  Unconscious biases can increase during periods of stress or when you feel time-pressured.  Understanding your personal biases and being cognizant of times when these biases may become more pronounced is important in ensuring that they don’t significantly influence your thoughts and actions.
  3. Educate yourself.  Consider adding Ibram X. Kendi’s book, “How to be an antiracist,” to your queue.   Kendi served as the virtual NCE’s closing plenary speaker this year.  Familiarize yourself with the AAP policy statement on the impact of racism on child and adolescent health and learn more about how all children are adversely affected by systemic racism.
  4. Create a home and working environment that embraces inclusivity.  Set an expectation that racist commentary is unwelcome and encourage friends, family members, and colleagues to hold each other accountable for the use of racist or discriminatory dialogue.
  5. Advocate for change.  Find an outlet where you can safely speak up against racial injustice.  Make your voice and opinions heard by exercising your right to vote.  Let us all do our part to elect anti-racist officials who are committed to decreasing health inequities in children.  This year, more than ever, we need to vote like children’s futures depend on it.


Vote for Children

Shetal Shah, MD, FAAP

Shetal Shah, MD, FAAP

(Dr. Shetal Shah, MD, FAAP is a neonatologist at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.  He is NYS AAP Chapter 2 President. This op-ed was published on Orlando Sentinel on September 16, 2020)

With only a few weeks until Election Day, voters are feverishly hearing from candidates running for offices from your local town board to president of the United States.  Though rallies, town halls and campaigning are mostly virtual this election season, candidates are articulating their visions and appealing to voters’ interests.  As an electorate, we are being demographically portioned into groups such as the “suburban” voter, the “millennial” voter or the “single-issue” voter.

However, one major constituency is not being highlighted in the current debate, which is why, as a pediatrician, I plan to vote like children’s futures depend on it in November.  Children are 20% of the population but 0% of the vote, and their problems don’t get addressed unless physicians, parents, teachers and those who care for kids make their issues are own.

Nothing is more fundamental to child health than health insurance and the ability to see a doctor when your child is ill.  For healthy children, insurance coverage allows kids to access preventive care like autism screening, vision/hearing/dental screening and life-saving immunizations.

But while the current COVID pandemic has highlighted disparities in children’s access to internet and quality virtual education, long-standing income-based gaps in children’s health insurance coverage have gone largely unnoticed.

Medicaid is the largest insurer of children, and along with Child Health Plus, covers about 39 million kids, including children in foster care and with special healthcare needs.  Deeper cuts to the millions of children covered by public insurance were only forestalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, but will be front-and-center next legislative session in every state as they grapple with budget deficits and coronavirus-related financial strain.

Nationally, we’ve seen an increase in the rate of uninsured children over the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic, regulatory obstacles and reduced funding have led to over 425,000 children losing health coverage.  This reverses almost a decade-long trend of annual reductions in the number of uninsured kids. In 2016, only 4.7% of children were uninsured, the lowest rate ever recorded.

What did that mean?  It meant my patients with asthma could get inhalers and say away from the emergency room.  It meant more children with diabetes had access to insulin.  It meant more patients on my hospital’s oncology ward could receive chemotherapy.

I will be voting for kids because reduced Medicaid funding will harm my patients.  Patients like the extremely premature babies in my intensive care unit who — born the size of an iPhone — need special ventilators to breathe, medications to keep their hearts beating and customized intravenous fluids prescribed daily and adjusted hourly.  Half of all premature babies are covered by Medicaid and without a strong, well-funded program to support them, I fear they won’t get the physical, occupational and speech therapy they need to thrive.

Decades of data show children insured by Medicaid do better in school, graduate college and become healthier adults than if left uninsured and without access to a physician.  This makes Medicaid a good long-term investment as well. For every dollar invested in the program, the state receives a dollar in federal funds.

Protecting Medicaid locally and across the county is essential to the health of children.  That is why I plan to cast my vote with children’s needs in mind. The policies and laws and candidates we support today will impact our children.  Kids can’t vote, but I can vote like their futures depend on it.

Schools Prepare for Reopening

Sanjivan V. Patel, MD, FAAP

Sanjivan V. Patel, MD, FAAP

Schools Prepare for Reopening:  COVID-19 and MIS-C and How it Relates to Parents, Teachers, Students, and Pediatricians

Sanjivan Patel, MD, FAAP
Chairman, Department of Pediatrics
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

Kyle Russell, DO, PGY3
Chief Pediatric Resident
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

Chenyu Zhang, B.S., OSM-IV
Medical Student
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine

            As schools prepare for reopening, there are multiple factors to consider in order to ensure the best chance at a safe and secure reopening for children, teachers, and families. Schools across the country and the world have reopened with mixed results, which is why it is imperative to follow guidelines to give the schools the best chance of success.

Schools around the country have recently opened with various outcomes. Some school districts are able to have classes with no increase of spread yet while others have had staff deaths and subsequent closures. Community transmission rates have a significant impact on safely opening schools. New York City has had a positive test rate of less than 1% for the weeks up to the proposed school opening date4. The lower positivity rate leads to less asymptomatic carriers to potentially spread the disease.

However, recent reports show that 55 Department of Education employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in the week prior to the potential start date. Of those 55, at least 45 are teachers. This number is out of 17,000 tested, and marks a positivity rate around 0.3%4. While this number may be small, the potential for this to spread exponentially remains high, especially considering the amount of students, parents, and staff each of these people may come into contact with. To further complicate matters, these results are from tests administered two weeks prior to results, which allows a large window of potential infection time.

In order to decrease the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible, it is critical for students, staff, and teachers to stay home when symptomatic. The CDC reports symptoms of the SARS-Cov-2 virus may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. However, there are known asymptomatic carriers that can spread infection. Among them, children tend to be asymptomatic more frequently than adults3.  While previously believed that children were not significant carriers of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, recent studies have shown that they may carry similar or risk of transmission. While children tend to not have as severe of an illness than adults, they may be a significant vector to community spread 1.

Children are also at risk for developing Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C. MIS-C is known to be a possible sequela of  COVID-19. This is a serious inflammatory syndrome and your child’s doctor should be notified. Prevention for this syndrome is the same as prevention for COVID-19.

MIS-C Symptoms:

  • Fevers lasting for more than 24 hours
  • Red eyes and/or a skin rash
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Child seems confused or overly sleepy
  • Trouble breathing

In order to protect yourself, your child, and school staff members, simple prevention techniques should be used.

  1. Hand hygiene is critical, especially after touching door handles, subway rails, or other objects that come into contact with others.
  2. Social distancing, or staying 6 feet apart from others, helps decrease the odds that one comes into contact with respiratory droplets from another person who may be infected.
  3. Face coverings, such as surgical masks, fabric masks, or any other covering that covers both the nose and mouth decreases the droplets the wearer produces and therefore protects others. This is critical because even if one does not have symptoms, they may be an asymptomatic carrier or be early in the disease course and unknowingly infect many others.
  4. Eye shields could also prevent respiratory droplets from coming into contact with the mucosa of one’s eyes and may prevent transmission.

Schools have adapted methods in order to increase safety. Each day, children and staff members should have their temperatures checked and fill out a health screen prior to admittance. Schools are also offering different teaching styles to decrease interaction between children. The hybrid model includes a mixture of online learning from home and in-person learning, with many schools having students in school every other day to decrease exposure. For schools offering in-person learning, many are offering pod style classrooms. These pods have a smaller number of children in each classroom with an assigned teacher. This allows for less in person interaction by eliminating multiple teachers or staff members in classrooms, eliminating the need to change rooms, and limiting the number of children each student comes into contact with each day. In addition, school districts may also offer a full remote option, with all classes and assignments done virtually from home.

However, all of these options have both advantages and disadvantages. While a completely remote option is the safest for students and teachers alike, it requires supervision. A parent or caregiver would need to be home during learning. This inherently favors the wealthy, which are able to hire help to care for their children, afford to not work, or have a job where they are able to work from home. There is also concern for how effective remote teaching is when compared to in person learning. Pod style learning allows for children to continue in person learning and peer interaction with other students, but limits their potential exposure. By limiting the amount of people that work with the children restricts access to additional support, such as counselors and specialty teachers. Complete in person learning has the most traditional style that students are used to. Even with the improved methods for screening and sanitizing the environment, it has the highest exposure risk to teachers, students, and families alike.

Regardless of the route chosen by schools and parents alike, schools will require more resources. Schools will need staff to conduct symptom and temperature screenings, provide sanitizing solutions, and extra staff for smaller classes for in person training. For virtual learning, schools will need computers and cameras for staff to teach classes. Students will also need computers with cameras and microphones, as well as stable internet. This is difficult to ensure for all students, as 1 in 5 teenagers were unable to complete schoolwork at home due to the lack of a computer or internet connection5. This disproportionately affects Black, Hispanic, and low-income families.

Extracurricular activities are another benefit of attending school in person. Be it from participating in PE and art classes to the various clubs and sports most Middle Schools and High Schools offer, extracurriculars provide another layer of education and enrichment to our children. While this may not impact families with access to plentiful resources, in school art, music and PE classes may be the only exposure that a child from a low income family would have to certain art resources, a musical education, and various sports equipment. On the other hand, involvement in sports teams, especially contact sports, in school may increase the risk of transmission. Outdoor sports such as tennis, cross country and track would be less likely to be impacted by this pandemic. However sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and basketball involve moments where COVID would be spread. Swimming would be another activity where it would be especially hard for students to comply with mask regulations. As we learn more about the inflammatory and long term effects of COVID-19, we are also finding that patients are at a higher risk of myocarditis than other diseases, which is dangerous and could be fatal, especially with exertion during sports6.

Opening schools carries both significant positives and negatives. For those who opt into in person schooling, personal protection and infection control is critical. Schools should have a protocol in place for returning to school when sick, especially with influenza season arriving. In order to protect our children, their families, and school staff, self-quarantine when symptomatic, social distancing, and masking methods are imperative to curb the spread of COVID-19.