Ioana Mihăilă, Minister of Health: “I think that parents should ask the schools about the situation of vaccinated and unvaccinated teachers”

Parents should ask schools about the situation of vaccinated and unvaccinated teachers, said on Monday evening, at Digi24, the Minister of Health, Ioana Mihăilă, when asked if parents would have the right to oppose the entry of those teachers who are not vaccinated. On the other hand, in the case of children with vulnerabilities at COVID, the possibility to go to school online will be kept, the health minister mentioned.

More than 185,000 employees in the Romanian education system, out of a total of over 300,000, have been vaccinated, which means about 60 percent, said on Sunday, at Digi24, the Minister of Education, Sorin Cîmpeanu. As the proportion of unvaccinated teachers remains quite high, it is clear that there will be teachers in every school who will enter classes without being vaccinated, which could be a danger, especially for children who are too young to be vaccinated.

Asked how she comments on the fact that so few teachers have been vaccinated, Ioana Mihăilă answered that she finds it “at least sad and certainly worrying”.

It is known the  case of an  unvaccinated teacher from California who infected more than half of her class, after, during classes, she took off her mask, so that she could read more easily to the children. Infected with the highly contagious Delta strain, the teacher infected the students, who were too young to be vaccinated. 

It is never too late for vaccination

Under these conditions, should parents, especially those of vaccinated children, have the right to refuse unvaccinated teachers to enter the classroom ?  Ioana Mihăilă, Minister of Health, was asked on Monday evening, at Digi24.

“I think teachers should think about getting vaccinated. It is never too late for vaccination. (…) I think that parents should ask the schools about the situation of vaccinated and unvaccinated teachers, so that it is a transparent issue and so that schools also more actively promote vaccination among teachers “, replied Ioana Mihăilă.

There are children who live with their parents, grandparents who have chronic illnesses and are very vulnerable to COVID. Asked if these children will be able to stay at home and go to school online, Ioana Mihăilă confirmed that the authorities will allow this exemption from physical participation in classes. “But we must again mention that those children and those families who have adults with chronic diseases are recommended, for those adults with chronic diseases, to be vaccinated. It is true, there are special situations with patients who are immuno-compromised and who do not react effectively enough to vaccination, but otherwise, there are no  contraindications for patients with chronic diseases “, pointed out Ioana Mihăilă.

“Sad and worrying”

“Teachers, like medical staff, should be among the vectors that transmit and educate the population for vaccination and then, yes, it is sad and worrying that these potential vectors did not choose what was right for them in the first place, and namely to protect themselves through vaccination, and what is good for those who learn and care for them “, Ioana Mihăilă also said.

A teacher who enters the classroom unvaccinated makes a dangerous gesture primarily for his health, because all studies show that adults are still more affected by COVID and develop more severe forms than young people and children. Although we also see hospitalized children, adults are the ones who are most exposed to risk, the minister pointed out.

On the other hand, teachers are required to wear a mask. The risk of transmission – with teachers wearing masks and all students wearing masks – is much reduced, although not completely eliminated. Together with the permanent ventilation and the promotion of vaccination, we should go for good, concluded Ioana Mihăilă.

Does the mask remain at sports time?

Therefore, wearing a mask will still be compulsory in school. However, a discussion ensued and there were contradictory statements of the officials regarding the textile masks, the Minister of Health not agreeing, for example, with the textile masks. The problem with textile masks is that they do not have a standard to ensure their efficiency, the health minister explained on Monday evening at Digi24.

“Both textile masks and medical masks will be allowed for the primary classes , but we will strongly recommend, we will practically oblige, the wearing of masks for medical use at the gymnasium and high school classes”, announced Ioana Mihăilă.

The masks will be worn in the classroom, in the hallways, during breaks, in all enclosed spaces.

Regarding the sports class,  up to the incidence of 2 per thousand, students will be able to sit without a mask, including in the gym , but the firm recommendation will be that sports activities, where possible, be performed outside and only at need inside and only up to 2 to a thousand without a mask.

If the incidence of 2 per thousand is reached in the respective locality,  the sports activity is given up , if it cannot take place outside, Ioana Mihăilă also said.

The physical distance between the children will be ensured as much as possible, but there will be clear conditions related to  ventilation and permanent ventilation  and the maintenance of those means of prevention related to  hand hygiene,  Ioana Mihăilă detailed the conditions in which the classes will start on September 13 .

Ioana Mihăilă: We see more and more children in intensive care. Vaccination during pregnancy is safe

“It is never too late to vaccinate children, especially since we see more and more hospitalized children in intensive care units. We also see very young children “, mentioned Ioana Mihăilă, who wanted to send a message to mothers:” Vaccination during pregnancy is safe! “

She showed that there are one-month-old children infected and hospitalized, born to unvaccinated mothers. In all situations of children admitted to intensive care, they are hospitalized with their mother or father, and if their parents are not vaccinated, they are also infected.

“It is important to convey that parents must be vaccinated, pregnant women must be vaccinated from the age of 12, it is still not too late to vaccinate children. It is never too late to vaccinate them “, insisted Ioana Mihăilă.

Three options for vaccination in schools

The Minister of Health explained to Digi24 how vaccination will work in schools.

“Already, together with the Ministry of Education, contact persons have been nominated   in each school who contact, on the one hand, the representatives of the public health departments and implicitly of the vaccination centers, on the other hand, with the classes and parents, precisely to organize information campaigns and to connect the specialists with the parents in order to have a correct information on the benefits of vaccination in children “, said Ioana Mihăilă.

The Minister pointed out that there will be three vaccination options in which the schools will be involved:

  • where possible and where there are school medical offices, school doctor and appropriate equipment,  vaccination centers can be organized at the level of those  offices ;
  • where the infrastructure or staff do not allow the organization, in those offices a  mobile caravan can be requested  by mobilizing a team from the vaccination centers. Especially in the cities we have vaccination centers that have time, no longer having so much activity, to mobilize to schools, pointed out Ioana Mihăilă.
  • at schools where there is a vaccination center in the immediate  vicinity , school representatives inform and schedule children, parents and teachers to be vaccinated.

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