Time for greater attention to pediatric public health with COVID-19 inequities noted among children

By Dennis Archambault

While COVID-19 has had a well-documented impact on the older adult population, the young, particularly the very young, have not been thought of as particularly vulnerable – until recent weeks. As with their parents and elders, Black and Hispanic children are suffering more from the pandemic than their White counterparts, according to the Centers for Disease Control  https://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/wellness/2020/08/07/coronavirus-outbreak-children-racial-disparities/3321247001/.

The debate over school reopening during the pandemic has focused on how Black children are at a disadvantage either way. All children going to school puts them at risk for contracting the coronavirus. Staying at home puts Black kids at risk for lacking access to online education, and jeopardizing their parents’ ability to work without the de facto child care that school provides. With schools being a major source of meals for children, the meal distribution once again becomes an issue for poor children. When Black children become sick, they need hospitalization more often, missing school and adding stress to their parents. And then there are the costs.

The inequity faced by Black and Hispanic kids can be addressed, in part, through better access to primary pediatric care. Like everyone, they need immunizations, good nutrition, and need to practice public health through masking and distancing – very difficult for adults, much less children.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.