Kudos to school directors and administrators at Mifflinburg Area, who last week brought in three doctors from Evangelical Community Hospital to address public concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, ongoing and evolving mitigation measures and the district’s handling of the pandemic.
Two of the physicians — Dr. Chris Darrup and Dr. Benjamin Keyser — have ties to the district. Darrup is the district’s boys lacrosse coach. Keyser has children in district schools. These are names and faces that those with concerns likely know, should respect and listen to with an open mind. They were joined by Dr. Shawn McGlaughlin of Family Medicine of Evangelical-Mifflinburg.
The trio addressed a wide range of questions from an online audience, a group that, unfortunately, seemed to be smaller than public, in-person meetings that also included mitigation in schools.
They touched on possible mental and physical impacts of long-term masking on students and herd immunity. They talked about a list of other vaccines already required to attend public school in Pennsylvania. Many students have never even heard of mumps or measles. Vaccines are the reason for that lack of knowledge, they said.
The hope is the important dialogue did not fall on deaf ears, that the social media scientists perhaps wise up and move on with the understanding that up to 90 percent of those in Valley hospitals with COVID symptoms are unvaccinated.
It is so disheartening that something like this is needed at this point in the pandemic, 18 months after COVID swept into Pennsylvania, shutting schools and businesses. If feels like the same issues need to be addressed over and over and over and over.
There are students in the Valley who are in their third school year of at least temporary remote instruction. That is time in the classroom, with face-to-face instruction, you cannot make up, particularly for the younger students.
Dr. Jennifer Vodzak, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Geisinger, said the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital repeated to The Daily Item last week that mitigation and vaccines work. Get vaccinated, if eligible; maintain social distance, wear a twin-layered mask, be vigilant in washing hands all can help stem the current surge.
“If you do all of these things you have a better chance of protecting your family than if you only do one or two of these things,” Vodzak said.
The scientists trust the science and the scientists. Late last week, Pfizer and BioNTech sought to seek emergency use authorization for children between the ages of 5 and 11 with Food and Drug Administration. A decision could be coming in a matter of weeks. Keyser said early returns are as promising as the trials for adults.
“I’ll trust them with my children. I will,” he said.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.