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The Payoffs and Perils of Mass Vaccinations for Children

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Instead of launching directly into case, death and hospitalization tallies, the White House COVID-19 task force briefing began this week with a personal plea from senior adviser Andy Slavitt, whose son is suffering from long-haul symptoms after contracting the coronavirus last year.

“Six months later, he still suffers from tachycardia, shortness of breath, and ongoing and frequent flu-like symptoms,” said Slavitt, who previously served in the Obama administration as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “His hands are cold to the touch.”

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[ READ: Teens Can Get Vaccinated, but It May Be a Tough Sell to Some Parents ]
While COVID-19 cases are down in nearly all 50 states for the first time since the onset of the pandemic and counties are reporting dramatic declines in hospitalizations and deaths, the share of young people in those counts – especially young children – is growing.

The phenomenon is not entirely unexpected given the emergence of more infectious strains of the virus and the age group’s limited access to vaccines, which only became available for 12- to 15-year-olds last week and are not yet approved for younger children. Nonetheless, the phenomenon, including the uptick in long-haul symptoms among kids, is alarming public health and education officials alike who are racing to get jabs into the arms of the youngest Americans.

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“Young people have been through a lot in this pandemic,” Slavitt said. “In many ways, the pandemic has been as hard on young people as anyone.”

“But there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he continued. “We are winning the war on the virus, and we need you to help us finish the job.” Continue reading….

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