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Doctors urge parents to look for credible sources when deciding about COVID-19 vaccine for kids

Virus Outbreak Washington
Posted at 7:23 AM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 07:31:51-04

TAMPA, Fla. — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of children across the U.S. are still not vaccinated against COVID-19, even if they’re eligible.

“Almost 12.8 million children have tested positive for COVID since the onset,” said Dr. Lisa Merritt, Executive Director of the Multicultural Health Institute.

Earlier this year, we saw the highest numbers of pediatric hospitalizations due to the omicron variant.

This is a continuing concern for doctors, should another variant arise.

“There’s still a very small percentage of children overall vaccinated. We’re concerned we’ll continue to see those numbers escalate and continue to see the pandemic circulate around in family groupings and community groupings,” said Merritt.

Health officials fear parents are making decisions about vaccinating their children with false information and are hesitant because of, especially the worry that the vaccine will cause severe side effects.

“The instances of severe reactions are minuscule. They are really, really rare. And yet the instances of people getting sick, and children getting sick and children even dying from COVID unfortunately that has happened. And that will continue to happen unless we work together to try to prevent it from happening,” said Merritt.

Doctors want to remind parents that the most common, mild side effects they see in children are redness and soreness at the injection site, fever, fatigue, and headache.

“This is something to be anticipated and not something to be concerned about,” said Merritt.

While children are less likely to be hospitalized or die from the virus than adults are, the CDC reports more than 1,000 children 18 and younger have died from COVID-19.

“As a parent, I totally get it. I have a daughter who has significant health issues and the whole concept of vaccination has always been of concern. But as a clinician I’m also well aware of the tragedies that happen and the sadness of people who have lost children, who’ve had children suffer with conditions that could’ve been prevented through the immunoprotective effects of vaccines,” said Merritt.

Health officials want to help parents get to the truth about COVID-19 vaccines.

“It’s not helpful to give conflicting information. We don’t have this confusion about flu. We don’t have this confusion about other conditions,” said Merritt.

Some of the other most popular myths and rumors going around include:

  • children who already got infected with COVID-19 don’t need to be vaccinated
  • the vaccine will impact their fertility or alter a child’s DNA
  • they can get the virus from the vaccine

Doctors say all of these are simply not true, and in some cases impossible.

“They’re not credible. And it’s unfortunate because it makes our work that much harder. We’re out there taking the risk, we’re out there seeing what happens, we’re out there trying to help and support families,” said Merritt.

Experts stress the conflicting information going around makes it tough for parents to know what to trust. That’s why they’re urging them to make sure what they’re consuming is the truth.

“I can understand people’s concerns and there’s a lot of misinformation and people should take their time and they should read and go to useful, reliable sources,” said Merritt.

Health officials say this is crucial, especially for minority communities.

“The majority of children suffering with COVID and who have died from COVID have been children of color,” said Merritt.

Some of those reliable sources for information include the CDC, the World Health Organization, the National Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Get the vaccine, protect your kids, talk it over with your doctor. Understand what your concerns might be,” said Merritt.

“We all have to work together. No one is safe until the world is safe until we are all protected,” she added.