ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — There is an understandable concern on the part of many parents as their children get set to return to full-time, in-person class this coming school year.

Dr. Kailyn Rigby of Highland Family Medicine addressed those concerns and some of the steps parents and students can take to be safe Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

We have heard about the rise in COVID-19 cases among children. Should parents be worried about sending their kids back to school?

After declining in early summer, child cases across the country have increased exponentially, over a four-fold increase the past month, reaching levels of the previous winter surge of 2020-21. This is concerning especially as many children will be returning to school full time, further increasing the risk of transmission. However, it is still safe for children to return to school if they take the proper precautions. Masks are as important as ever to reduce transmission amongst kids and from kids to other vulnerable populations.

How do vaccines play into that?

Vaccines are also crucial to this because they prevent the spread better than wearing masks alone. Children under the age of 12 are still unable to be vaccinated at this point, therefore, it is essential that everyone in the community gets vaccinated to further prevent the spread to help protect children who cannot be vaccinated. This will help limit spread and limit severity. As most people are aware, there can still be breakthrough cases especially with the more contagious Delta variant but vaccines can decrease the severity of the COVID infection. As I tell my patients, the side effects of the vaccine are a lot less scary than ending up in the hospital or ICU. Patients I take care of in the hospital, after they have had a severe infection ask to have the vaccine as soon as they can after they recover. It changes your perspective when you have a serious infection or when you take care of people who are really sick with COVID and know that suffering could have been prevented by getting the vaccine.

There are many who remain vaccine-hesitant. What is your message for those who fall into that group?

It’s frustrating. I really care about my patients and want to do my best for them. As physicians, our patients trust us with so many aspects of their health and lives but it is frustrating that they will not follow our advice regarding the COVID vaccine. Now the Pfizer vaccine is even fully approved by the FDA. I just hope more people will get the vaccine now to prevent me from seeing them or their children in the hospital or ICU.