Local doctors, parents share advice on talking to younger kids about COVID vaccine

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Posted at 5:03 PM, Oct 25, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Within weeks, health experts expect younger children could be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. While parents wait for that to happen, they might also wonder how to talk to their kids about getting the shot. Tampa Bay area doctors explain what parents can share with their kids to help prepare for that moment.

“I know my kids had well-visits I believe back in August, and they asked the pediatrician about it,” said Kimberly Lasher. “'When can I get a COVID vaccine? Am I going to be safe if I get it?'”

Lasher has three kids between 6 and 11-years-old, all not able to get a COVID vaccine yet. On Tuesday, FDA advisors will meet to discuss Pfizer’s COVID vaccine in kids aged 5 to 11.

Lasher explains her family has had open discussions about the vaccine.

“It’s been more of a conversation I’d say with my 11 and 9-year-old because they’re more aware of it,” said Lasher. “We’re a family that does flu shots every year, so for my kids, it’s just kind of like second nature, and I know that we’ve had conversations about doing our part to help stop the spread, so I know my older two are at least interested in receiving the vaccine to help stop it.”

“Even a child as young as five, six, seven, eight, they can understand that getting this vaccine will help keep other people in their community safe, and it will help keep them safe as well,” said Dr. Lisa Cronin, a pediatrician with Children’s Medical Center.

Dr. Cronin says they’ve seen a lot of kids who’ve been apprehensive about vaccines develop a better understanding of what they are and how they work, leading to some kids being less apprehensive about getting a shot.

“A lot of times they really want to feel like they’re contributing, so if you empower them and make them feel good about this choice that you are making as a family, then yes, they may still not want to actually get a poke, but overall, they’re going to be really excited to contribute to stopping this pandemic, just like we all are,” said Dr. Cronin.

Cronin encourages parents to look at the data behind the vaccines and to remind their kids any time their immune system jumps into high gear, they might feel some side effects. Parents also share their advice with other people as they wait for vaccines to roll out to younger kids.

“I think just having an open dialogue with your children about it, kind of putting things that you read on social media aside, following science, and allowing the kids to speak to the pediatrician about it,” said Lasher.