Enjoy your Thursday NCMS Morning Rounds.

Feb. 25, 2021

NCMS, NC Peds Issue Joint Statement on In-Person Learning

The NCMS and the NC Pediatric Society issued a joint media statement yesterday in support of reopening schools for in-person learning. The statement is centered on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics guidance and the science supporting the return to in-person learning as long as risks in spreading the COVID-19 virus are mitigated.

Following is the statement sent to media statewide:

The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS), representing physicians and PAs statewide, and the NC Pediatric Society, representing the state’s pediatricians and other child health professionals, support the decision to re-open schools for in-person learning in North Carolina as long as the risks of acquiring the COVID-19 virus are mitigated as outlined in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) school reopening guidelines and the American Academy of Pediatrics Reopening Principles.

“The data shows that children are less likely to have had the virus and less likely to have severe symptoms if they do acquire it, yet they still can be infected and spread the virus to others. Therefore, we continue to strongly urge strict adherence to mitigation efforts both in the schools and in the larger community,” said NCMS President Philip M. Brown, Jr., MD. “While school systems need to follow the CDC’s guidance to ensure the safest possible environment for our children, we all need to wear a mask, wash our hands and practice physical distancing from those outside our household. We all need to do our part to help keep our children healthy and learning to their full potential.”

Weighing the risks of acquiring the virus against the benefits of resuming in-person learning is a complicated calculus, dependent on many factors unique to each community including adequate resources for schools. The CDC and pediatricians in our state and nationally who know and treat young patients understand this and offer thoughtful guidance based on the latest science around health impacts of the pandemic.

We know that absence from school due to the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on children’s mental health and development. Many families are struggling with food insecurity, housing issues, financial and health issues and cannot adequately attend to their children’s educational or emotional requirements. Returning to in-person learning, with proper risk mitigation, is the best way to address many children’s educational, social and emotional needs.

“Humans need humans and our children need in-person instruction for their positive intellectual and emotional development,” said President of the NC Pediatric Society Christoph Diasio, MD, FAAP. “We’re seeing more anxiety and depression among our patients, along with increased obesity and myopia. When in-person schools can be safe for students, teachers and staff, they are a great place for kids to be with other kids and caring adults.”

As new, more transmissible variants are emerging, it is crucial that we work together to mitigate community spread through the 3 ‘W’s, getting a vaccine when eligible to do so in order to avoid worse immediate outcomes for our community and in the long term for our children’s future. No single action will stem the spread of this virus, but together we can make a difference.

• The CDC offers comprehensive information on the best way to open schools for in-person instruction here.
• The NC Department of Health and Human Services guidance for our state is located here.
• The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidance on school reopening as well. Access it here.

FDA Committee Weighs EUA for Another COVID-19 Vaccine Tomorrow

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biologics Advisory Committee will meet tomorrow beginning at 9 a.m. to consider an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical division. The meeting will be available to view virtually at this link, where you can also review documents on the vaccine trials. View the agenda for the meeting here.

Previously, this advisory committee of experts also reviewed the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and recommended an EUA shortly after their deliberations concluded. Review of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires just one dose unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, comes as new variants of the virus are spreading. The committee will weigh how these variants will impact the new vaccine’s effectiveness. Johnson & Johnson reported that in a study of nearly 44,000 volunteers the single shot showed a 66 percent effectiveness in protecting participants from moderate or severe coronavirus disease.

For a comprehensive look at the issues the committee will be considering, this article from Healthcare Dive gives a good overview.

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could, in time, help alleviate some of the supply issues and help meet the demand of those waiting to be vaccinated.

Join the NCMS Book Club

Looking for a way to connect with your colleagues, discuss compelling ideas and socialize with engaging individuals remotely? The NCMS book club has attracted a great group of NCMS members and you are welcome to join them.

The book currently up for discussion is The Midnight Library: A Novel by Matt Haig. In this New York Times bestseller, we will meet Nora Seed and journey with her through a labyrinthian library of endless possibilities! Kirkus aptly describes this book as “a whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.” Learn more about the book and check out reader reviews here.

The club gives you plenty of time to read the selection and participate in a guided discussion. The forum will begin Thursday, March 18 and continue through Thursday, May 20.

Learn more about the NCMS Book Club and sign up here.

In the News

‘Vaccine Alarmism’: Is Ambiguous Public Messaging Hindering COVID-19 Vaccination Rates? Becker’s Hospital Review, 2-19-21

Learning Opportunity

The Journey Towards Medicaid Managed Care: Get Your Go Bag Ready! March 11 from 11 am – 1 pm
Join us as we hear from members of the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services’ Medicaid Managed Care Transformation Team as we discuss the many important items to remember in the final days before Medicaid Managed Care goes live, including issues around AMH and COVID Coverage policies!

Learn more and register here.


If you have policies you’d like your NCMS Board of Directors to consider, please complete the Board input form here. Thanks for reading!