Vaccines for children enable some parents to return to work - but for others, there are still different problems

Vaccination of children aged 5-11 years is probably not enough to relocate parents to overcrowded trains or cubicles, say human resources experts.


This week's approval by the Food and Drug Administration for Children's Policy will be an incentive for some parents to expand their careers or return to work in person. But for others, different needs and benefits are very important.

When a recent US Census Household Pulse Survey asked respondents their main reason for their unemployment, 4.9 million people said they were caring for out-of-school children or caregivers, and 2.4 million people said they were worried about getting or spreading coronavirus.

Increased immunizations may encourage other child care workers to resume after-school childcare and childcare services, creating employment opportunities for parents, especially women, for whom child care responsibilities have fallen heavily on them. It will be the reason for some parents who have chosen a distant or home school to send their children to private school.

Workers who have used their children as a reason to work from home "will lose that as an excuse."

And it may alleviate the anxiety of some parents who were worried about transmitting the virus to their child or to other colleagues or passengers.

Nicole McNulty, a 46-year-old Seattle psychiatrist, reduced her working hours last year when schools restarted as material and she needed to provide after-school care for her son with learning disabilities.

"Vaccination is changing things for me, because I am a single mother and widow and I have been working for a while just for fear that the school will come back online with exposure and the need for solitary confinement," she told NBC News this week. "Once most of our schools have been vaccinated I will feel more confident about returning to full-time work as we will see less time for segregation and instability in schools."

Some workers who have kept their child vaccinated at a remote school due to HIV problems say they will now send their child to a private school.

Alicia Erickson, 43, has a 12-year-old vaccinated child and an 9-year-old daughter who has not been vaccinated.

"As soon as we have time to meet, I'll be sending him [to school]," said Erickson.

Erickson is also now a visible teacher. She started an online teaching business for children with disabilities at the beginning of the epidemic to make money safely while caring for her children at home.

Alicia Erickson, a virtual teacher, was teaching at home her nine-year-old child who was not vaccinated.

Alicia Erickson, a virtual teacher, was teaching at home her nine-year-old child who was not vaccinated. With the help of Alicia Erickson

"Once the children are vaccinated, I will teach them more than virtual," he said.

Labor experts anticipate a rapid increase in workers returning to workplaces as a result of child vaccination approvals. First, it will take children at least a month to be fully vaccinated.

"Employers can count on reducing some of their employees' grievances in the coming months [in return for work]," said David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc. "Over time, workers who have used their children and the lack of immunization skills as a reason to want to work from home will lose that as an excuse."

But for many parents NBC News spoke to, the lack of a vaccine for their children was not the main reason why they chose to work away or not work. And its discovery will not be a sudden cause for them to run back to the physical realm.

For some parents, their employer's attitude toward being in the office is a major factor in whether they are in the office or not.

"Most of the time, my office friends are far away or mixed up no matter how their children are vaccinated," said Ariana Garcia, 27, a single mother and real estate agent in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "And we didn't send our children to school because, professionally, we need to be physically present and have nothing else to do," he said.

Some parents say that even after vaccinating children, they need to stay as a long-distance worker so that they can provide care if their child’s class is to be locked up alone or moved away because of a crime or Covid outbreak.

Abbey Bailey, a 37-year-old staff assistance program counselor from Austin, Texas, whose husband works in IT, said they were both "settled" in their new remote jobs and planned to keep them that way. They take their children out of private school and start studying at home until the children are fully vaccinated.

“It’s hard to change all the time from traditional work to long-term work,” Bailey said. "This is a way to ensure that when the kindergartens close and even if the schools are far away we have a plan to go back."