By Stephanie Goodling
As soon as the COVID-19 vaccine was approved for school-aged children, the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley sprang into action to get as many as their students vaccinated as possible. Thanks to Dr. Kenneth Toff, a JDS grandparent and one of the providers at the independent pediatric practice Children’s Healthcare in Allentown, 40 children ages 5-11 were fully vaccinated this fall at a clinic at the day school.
Toff used a similar method to that employed at his office —the children were vaccinated at the school, a place where they are comfortable. His patients are vaccinated in their cars with their parents, another place where they feel comfortable.
“We have a great set up for COVID. We see all of our sick children outside. All well children are brought right back to the exam room,” explained Toff of the measures being taken to keep his patients as safe as possible from potential exposures. Children’s Healthcare also boasts its own lab, where the most accurate PCR tests can be read in usually under 40 minutes.
Toff encourages families to continue to take COVID seriously and also to understand how quarantining works. If a child has COVID, they should quarantine for 10 days. However, if they’re home with another child who is not vaccinated, that child should quarantine for 20 days as the first infected child in quarantine is contagious up to 10 days.
“Our biggest challenge right now is we’re seeing a lot of positive COVID tests. We see four to eight positives a day in kids, and another three to five each day with influenza A or influenza B. Getting the COVID booster is vital. All kids over 16 and all parents should get the booster as long as it’s been six months or more since they were fully vaccinated initially. The vaccines are extremely safe; it uses natural means to trigger immunity without risk of getting the disease,” said Toff.
He emphasized that COVID can seriously afflict children, some of whom he has seen admitted to the pediatric intensive care units of local hospitals. And all children are being greatly impacted by the virus due to the disruptions to their normal routines. He has seen a lot of cases of anxiety and depression among adolescents during the pandemic.
“Vaccines are an amazing and safe way for all of us to return to a normal daily life and protect the people we love,” said Toff.