Monday, October 18, 2021

In the spirit of Yamim Noraim I decided to avoid responding to Ms. Mirwis first letter about COVID (“Why I Won’t Take the Vaccine,” August 26, 2021). However, her comments in her letter that appeared in the September 16 issue (“Against Masks in Children”), are so rife with misinformation that I feel compelled to respond.

Ms. Mirwis is a self-described educated and well-read person.I have no doubt that that is the case, but she says at the end of her letter “people look for valid factual information, not for opinions masquerading as fact,” which is exactly what she does.

She unequivocally states “there is not a single benefit achieved by a child masking up.” This is based on what information? She decides to not cite all the studies showing how detrimental masks have been. If Ms. Mirwis is referring to the plethora of poorly designed studies published in non-peer reviewed journals to prove a certain point, there is no point. There is a lot of information available on the internet that is not very factual and any educated person is aware of that.

Early in the pandemic we were hearing about the dangers of rebreathing carbon dioxide, emotional stress and a host of other ills attributed to masking. The fact is that all reputable children’s organizations, from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the Journal of Pediatrics to the Mayo Clinic have concluded that masking has no ill effects and is strongly encouraged.

Ms. Mirwis is obviously a sensitive person as she wants to cry every time she sees a masked up child. How would she feel if she saw a two-year-old on a ventilator with COVID? What about a three-year-old in shock from MIS-C (Multisystem Inflammatory Disease of Childhood), a newly diagnosed but definite consequence of COVID infection in children?

I practice in a local general pediatrics practice. We usually see many flu cases every winter. Last year not one. Maybe just a coincidence, but we also saw very little strep, RSV, croup or bronchitis. In short, because children were masked they stayed healthy.

Children thankfully do better than adults with COVID, but they constitute a significant reservoir of virus-spreading in the community. They need to be masked to protect themselves as long as they remain unvaccinated, and more importantly to protect their parents and grandparents. How many more need to die before people realize that we need to be proactive to mitigate the effects of this deadly disease?

There is nothing that young children hate more than being restrained, yet children get into their car seats and buckle up and don’t complain. That is because they have been trained to do the right thing. If we all felt badly for restraining them would we have them riding around in cars without their car seats?

Children are adaptable and flexible. All they need is some firm guidance presented in a loving, caring environment and they will happily comply. Letting children do what they want to keep them happy is not a good parenting philosophy. Maybe we shouldn’t vaccinate our children because they don’t like getting shots.

To say that masking has no benefit is egregiously irresponsible and patently false. In my shul over Yom Tov there were hordes of unmasked children running around. The number of COVID cases spiked so badly that all indoor minyanim were canceled for the foreseeable future and we are back to davening outdoors only. This trend will continue if more and more people follow Ms. Mirwis unfounded advice.

I hope Ms. Mirwis lives a long and healthy life and never needs to have any surgery. If she ever does, God forbid, I hope when she looks up, instead of seeing the smiling face of her surgeon, she sees a physician in a mask. There is a good reason for that.

David Wisotsky, MD
Tenafly, NJ
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