A: We always have to find a balance. On the one hand, there is always the imperative to take the Covid very seriously. This wave of Covid may be receding, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. So we have to make sure that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater in terms of conserving the things that have helped protect us, especially the mandates that you referenced, that the City of New York led nation in: the public sector mandate, as well as the private sector mandate.
On the other hand, we must recognize that things have really changed. Our level of transmission is lower than it has been for many months, and it is below the threshold that the CDC previously considered the boundary between substantial and moderate transmission. These are real gains. And when we put it all together, we have to recognize that people are embracing a new phase of the pandemic. And our responsibility is to ensure that we continue to protect people even as we recognize that people will do things differently because the overall risk is lower.
Q: It appears Mayor Eric Adams is very open to a September Covid-19 vaccination requirement for public school students, and some elected officials asked for it. Do you think that’s something the mayor should consider?
A: Yes, it certainly deserves serious consideration. This needs to be done in a methodical and thoughtful way in a way that recognizes that so many parents and families still need to have conversations with people they trust, whether pediatricians or otherwise, in order to get to a place where they feel more comfortable to vaccinate their child. But the benefits of childhood vaccination are unequivocal. We have vaccine requirements for so many other pediatric vaccinations.
Q: Some disabled or immunocompromised people feel like they’ve been left behind. What would you say to those who feel like things haven’t returned to normal for them yet?
A: Well, I understand and I sympathize. This is something I hear from many of my own patients as well. That it feels like the rest of the world is moving forward, even if their risk remains very real. And that’s something that we need to elevate as part of our discourse and have the ability to talk about the nuances that everyone’s level of risk is different.
From this point of view, this means that all of society must be comfortable, for example, with people who will continue to wear masks, even when they are optional. And then from a policy or governmental perspective, we have to center people with disabilities, people who are immunocompromised, people who are at higher risk for various other reasons, including marginalization, and make sure that our policies respond to their experience lived. .
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I plan to take care of some of the things that are dearest to me and that I haven’t had as much time for in the past two years as I would have liked. So, for example, pickups and deliveries and field trips with my little girl, and I have a couple hundred dinners that I have to and have to cook for my wife, given how much she helped me supported during this term. I will also continue to care for my patients at Bellevue Hospital, and I will also do some writing and teaching.