The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the lives and livelihood of many people. While children appear to be largely spared from the direct mortality impacts of COVID-19, the indirect effects of the pandemic can have dire consequences on our children now and for years to come.
With high levels of vaccine hesitancy, parents must remember that we are a shield for our children especially those who cannot be vaccinated. If we are able to achieve herd immunity through adult vaccination, we can decrease the spread of the virus and provide some level of protection for our children. Parents who are hesitant, will most likely be hesitant to have their children vaccinated also.
This will devoid them of the opportunity to protect themselves. The decision to be vaccinated or not is an individual one but this choice can ultimately impact the lives of our children. Therefore, when we are making these important decisions, we must stop and consider how will our choices impact on our children.
For close to two years now, schools have been disrupted. The closure of schools is directly affecting learning and is putting additional strain on family coping capacities. Some children will find it extremely difficult to catch up if they ever catch up at all. This disruption to their learning can have long term consequences and we risk leaving quite a lot of our children behind. Additionally, children’s reliance on online platforms for distance learning has also increased their risk of exposure to inappropriate content and online predators.
Children and their families are also suffering large scale disruptions of basic social services and their access to health, food, housing, income, and safe social interaction. This can cause children to slip into poverty and result in a cascade of social ills.
Lockdowns and shelter in place measures brought on by the pandemic come with heightened risk of children witnessing or suffering violence and abuse. Children in conflict settings, as well as those living in unsanitary and crowded conditions are at considerable risk for abuse and violence.
It is time for us to make maximum use of the tools available to us to try to end the pandemic. How long can we go on this way? Let us also think of the impact that all of this is having on the lives of our children.