Leading national infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci spoke at a Penn medicine event Friday, addressing youth mental health and the importance of getting vaccinated.
“America has an extraordinary chance to emerge from the darkest days of this historic COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a concerted effort to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Fauci, the Associated Press reported. “This is how we will overcome this pandemic and restore our lives, each of us doing our part by getting vaccinated to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. “
Fauci said isolation and social distancing have been difficult for teens and young people. He said it was important to talk about the disruption of education, the isolation from friends and the grief and anxiety that young people have experienced.
Research shows that the pandemic has negatively impacted adolescent mental health. Emergency room visits for suspected teenage suicide attempts increased by more than 50% in the past year compared to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
Another CDC study found that mental health-related emergency room visits were up 24% for children ages 5 to 11 and 31% for teens ages 12 to 17 compared to last April and October .
“Gen Zs who have been exposed to an unexpected death or death threat and then are unable to come together and mourn a loss… you may have nightmares, feel guilty, or become nervous and irritable,” which can lead to poor adaptation like substance use, ”E. Cabrina Campbell, professor of psychiatry at Penn Medicine and panelist, mentionned.
Campbell said families should monitor these symptoms and seek help if they last longer than a month.
Some patients with COVID-19 experience persistent health problems such as fatigue, shortness of breath, dry cough, and chest pain. This condition can be dangerous for children and adolescents.
Fauci and the panelists urged young people to get vaccinated when it is their turn.
Data from clinical trials have shown Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be effective in preventing COVID-19 in adolescents.
Fauci was the keynote speaker at this virtual event, and Penn Medicine’s Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine awarded him its first Humanism in Medicine Award for his “incredible and lifesaving leadership” and commitment to scientific evidence during the pandemic.