Bob Rauner, M.D.

Meet the Maximizer 

Dr. Bob Rauner talks about how COVID-19 vaccines help kids stay in school, while protecting our communities. 

Bob Rauner, MD, is Chief Medical Officer at OneHealth Nebraska, a LPS School Board Member, and President of Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln. 

Why is it important that kids are vaccinated against COVID-19?

It’s important kids are vaccinated for several reasons. Although the risk of death is small, it is still there, and there’s a 90% reduction if you’re vaccinated. Then the kids who are vaccinated are less likely to get something like multi-inflammatory syndrome.  

How does COVID-19 impact kids headed back to school?

Kids who aren’t vaccinated are more likely to get sick, which can cause them to miss school, which is a problem, because they don’t learn as well when they’re not at school. Plus, then mom and dad are missing work because of that. Then also, they can be the vehicle to transmit to somebody else, like their grandma, for example. 

From a public health point of view, why is vaccinating kids so beneficial for our community?

Vaccinating kids benefits the community in a couple ways. There’s a concept called herd immunity, where the more people who are immune in a community, the less spread there is, the less impact on the community. There’s a huge misconception that people thought Omicron was quote, “a milder virus.” Omicron wasn’t any milder than the original strain. What made it milder was the collective amount of immunity. So, if you were immune by either a natural infection or, even better, by vaccination, you were much, much less likely to be sick, hospitalized or die.

That contributes to the whole community, because one of the problems we ran into just recently is the big Omicron waves overtaxed our hospitals. People were dying of things other than COVID, because there just wasn’t medical care. There are people across Nebraska who couldn’t get the medical care they needed for something else, like a heart attack, that died that might not have, had there been more hospital capacity.

So there’s the individual burden, but people forget about the collective burden you put on a healthcare system, for example. Or an economic burden when that many people are missing work. One of the reasons the hospital capacity was low is because some of the doctors and nurses were also sick. There again, there’s layers of this. There’s a lot of things that this contributes. That’s why vaccination is not only an individual decision.