Column: Pediatrician urges continued use of masks indoors

For the Valley News
Published: 1/2/2022 10:00:49 PM
Modified: 1/2/2022 10:00:08 PM

As a physician and public health advocate who took a lifelong professional oath to protect, defend, educate and support the patients I serve each day, I say that COVID-19 is real, COVID-19 can make you sick and COVID-19 causes death in the most vulnerable among us.

Nothing matters more to me than the life-long health and well-being of the children and adolescents who now, too, are under siege from this pandemic.

This virus is an equal opportunity attacker that does not care about what street you live on, how much money you make, how you voted in the last election or what age you are. These statements are fact — not opinion — and are not up for debate in the medical community in which I live and breathe.

The COVID-19 vaccines work — there is no doubt — and it is an amazing blessing that we can now offer protection to younger and younger patients. But there remain those less than 5 years of age who, for now, are still vulnerable, still at risk and still need to be protected.

With the arrival of the omicron variant, we are faced with even more unknowns and more anxiety around what may or may not happen.

Mask-wearing in indoor public places is one such proven method of protection.

By protecting the forgotten, the immunocompromised, the youngest and the oldest, we all win in defense of our collective community health. We are all in this together to defeat this microscopic nemesis. Wearing a simple mask indoors in public spaces for the next two to three months is not, in my opinion, that much to ask.

I am not writing this to “challenge the right or freedom of personal choice” around the wearing of masks. I truly respect those who speak their mind and share their thoughts.

My intention is only to show that I, too, cherish and value this access to freedom of speech and choice with every ounce of my being.

I am not going to defend the politics that has permeated the discussion around what we do in our personal and professional lives and the decisions each of us make. I wear my mask out of respect for those around me.

Even as a fully vaccinated and boosted individual, I don’t know where your immune system is at the time we meet or interact. I don’t even know what my own body is doing at any given time or place in terms of creating antibodies against all that we face.

But if I can protect those around me by this small gesture, then I have done my bit to minimize my chances of passing this silent and deadly adversary on to someone else.

The wearing of masks is one small step to help knock down the spread, keep us safe and preserve our health. Especially with the cold winter months ahead, encouraging the ongoing use of masks is in strong support of this important tool in our toolbox to help continue to battle this virus.

Charles “Chuck” Cappetta, of Nashua, N.H., has served as a full-time pediatrician at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Nashua for the past 31 years. He has been a member of the Nashua Board of Health for seven years, and for the past 28 years has served as the physician of record for the Nashua school system.

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