Doctors help ease concerns, address hesitancy surrounding COVID vaccine for younger kids

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Oct 29, 2021

As the country waits for a COVID-19 vaccine to roll out to younger kids, new research shows some parents may have some hesitancy when it comes to getting their kids the shot. Doctors in the Tampa Bay area explain exactly what parents should know once a vaccine is available to their children.

“What parents need to understand is that there are benefits of the vaccine for their children,” said Dr. Juan Dumois, a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) latest research, a third of parents say they will “wait and see” how the vaccine is working before having their 5 to 11 year-old vaccinated, while it says three in ten say they definitely won’t get their 5 to 11-year-old vaccinated.

Dr. Dumois explains because the information is new, hesitancy is natural.

“In the trial with a few thousand children, they saw no severe adverse effects, just the common things that we’ve seen with a lot of other immunizations, and the effectiveness was quite good,” said Dumois.

Dr. Dumois says it is more true to say ending up in the hospital, having a severe complication, or death is less common in children, but he says it’s not zero.

“Unfortunately, over the course of the pandemic and especially during the Delta surge of the last two months, we have seen many children hospitalized, either with severe COVID-19 or with this multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Many of these kids were totally healthy before,” said Dr. Dumois. “Some patients, some of these kids with COVID have died, so it may be a rare thing, but it’s not rare when it happens to your child.”

The KFF research also shows more than seven in ten parents of 5 to 11 year-olds say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that not enough is known about the long-term effects of the COVID vaccine in children or that their child might experience serious side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Laura Arline, Baycare’s Chief Quality Officer, says when advisory panels, the FDA, and CDC have all looked at the data, which she explains has gone through a rigorous study process, and they say it’s safe and effective, she thinks the public can be reassured that’s the truth.

“Although we know children don’t get typically quite as ill as the adults do when they get COVID, actually about two million children in the ages of 5 to 11 have gotten COVID that we’re aware of, and about 8,500 of them have wound up in the hospital, and about 100 in the age group of 5 to 11 have died from COVID, and there’s no acceptable number of deaths, especially when it comes to children,” said Dr. Arline.

If you’re on the fence, doctors suggest to parents to plan a discussion with their pediatrician to get the important information from someone they trust.

“I’m more worried about what COVID might potentially do to my children in the long term than anything the vaccine might do because we know after being given to billions of people that the vaccine is safe and effective,” said Arline.