Travel Mask Mandate

Masked passengers wait in line at the security checkpoint at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, April 19, 2022, in Arlington, Va.

In the past year my family has had COVID-19, the flu, strep throat, ear infections and many colds.

This was even after we had our recommended flu and COVID-19 vaccines. When I mentioned this fact, my doctor kindly reminded me that my flu vaccine was why I was sitting in her office and not at the hospital.

Our vaccines helped see us through without complication even if they didn’t help prevent infection completely. I am writing this now with a box of tissues nearby thanks to my current cold. My son’s elementary school has definitely been ground zero for illnesses that keep sneaking into our home.

When kids first start school or day care, they tend to get sick much more frequently. They’re being exposed to viruses and bacteria that they’ve not encountered before and their little bodies have to learn to fight them off.

With masking and social distancing happening during the height of the pandemic to “slow the spread” of COVID-19, we also kind-of all hit the pause button on a lot of other viruses that would have normally been circulating. Germs had less opportunity to infect us.

Even when schools initially started back, most did so with mask mandates in place to make sure people continued to protect against COVID-19. This precaution worked to slow the spread of other viruses as well.

When we came back full force — to school and to the office — all of those bugs in waiting did the same. Bam! Tripledemic. Now, it seems all of our immune systems are playing catch up.

This is a double whammy for young kids like my son who started kindergarten in a mask. He spent the pandemic quarantine years at home with mom once his preschool shut down.

His developing immune system meant he would have already been prone to colds and other viruses once he got into a classroom environment. But without pre-school to ease him in, it hit us head on.

This may feel like an argument for shrugging off communicable illness as one of the pains of childhood. It’s good for their immune systems! There is some truth to that in the fact that this is all somewhat normal.

However, it’s still important to keep children home until they are completely well. If you send a child to school or daycare too soon, not only will they spread the virus but also their immune system is still compromised from being sick. A child will pick up a whole new illness while their defenses are down, and you’ll have to start all over again at home.

We must also remain cognizant of people, like me, who have autoimmune disease. My husband and son recovered from the flu much more quickly and easily than I did. It was hard for me, and super scary.

The immunosuppressant drugs I take to keep my autoimmune disease in check also makes me more susceptible to infections. It’s most likely not my diagnosis that will take me down, thanks to my medication, no. It’s the random infection I can’t seem to kick that I fear the most.

You can beat one bug, but you can’t beat them all, hence the tissue box nearby. Parents will get sick. The silver lining is summertime. The weather is warming, and summer break is near. Hopefully we’ll all feel the freedom that sunshine and fresh air bring.

As well as the natural social distancing that outdoor summer activities bring. Perhaps summertime can help us hit the pause button on all these viruses once again.

Check out Bonnie’s weekly YouTube videos at

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