Doctors say benefits of children’s COVID vaccine far outweigh the risks, parents opinions split

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Children ages 5 to 11  have now been cleared to  get vaccinated for COVID.  The U.S. Food and Drug  Administration authorized the  emergency use of the Pfizer  vaccine in late October. During  the pandemic, children ages 5 to 11 made up 39% of the cases  in individuals 18 or younger  and 146 deaths have been  reported. Mandates are still weeks  away while the FDA awaits  full approval. By comparison,  it took eight months for the adult vaccine to be approved and now parents and school officials are wondering what will happen next. Entrepreneur Tatrina Blaylock has two kids in Jackson Public Schools. She says vaccines for school aged children are nothing new so parents should have been prepared for this. “We have been required to get our kids [vaccinated] for decades now,” she said.  “We’ve got to do what’s best for the safety of our babies.” The Delta variant ushered in what experts claim could be the last wave of the virus. The U.S. may soon reach a point similar to what happened during the flu epidemic of 1918, when that pandemic ended after enough Americans had gained immunity through infection. 

Currently, 15 million pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine have become available for  states to order in advance.  Greta Adams is a nurse at St.  Dominic’s hospital and mother  to a six-year-old daughter. She  said when she found out her  daughter could get the vaccine,  she felt relief.  

“For me, it means new life.  It’s her having a more normal  childhood life experience,”  she said. “As for school, it’s  much safer when everyone  is vaccinated. I really want  school to get back to normal.” To date, 78% of people in the  U.S. over the age of 12 have  received at least one dose of the vaccine. And because the Delta  variant was so transmissible,  it has produced higher rates of  natural immunity. Dr. Monica  Northington says the kid-size  vaccine will fight a disease that  is as dangerous as the diseases  school-aged children are already  vaccinated against with a smaller  percentage of transmission. If it  doesn’t continue to transform,  she says, then COVID will  likely resemble measles or  chicken pox.  

“The vaccine is our greatest  tool to make COVID-19  liveable. As from all  indications. It is not going to disappear anytime soon,”  she said. “If the benefits of  immunization didn’t outweigh  the risks, then we would not be  recommending immunization  in this age group.”  

Many parents have expressed  concern about how the vaccine  will be administered and its long  term effects. One noted risk is  myocarditis which is a condition  in which the heart muscle  becomes inflamed, leading to  symptoms such as chest pain and  shortness of breath in children.  Dr. Timothy Quinn says the  chances of that are very slim. “In studies, there have been no incidents of myocarditis  occurring,” he said. “We must  note that if a child does contract  coronavirus, they have a much  better chance of a severe case  of myocarditis than those who  have taken the vaccine.  

Recently, in Garland, Texas,  two children under the age of  12 received adult doses of the  COVID vaccine. According to  the CDC, children ages 5 to 11  are suppose to be given a dose  only one-third the size of an  adult. That’s a possibility that  scares Darryl Weathersby, who  has a 5-year-old daughter.  

“We just don’t know what the long term effects will be. I  have reservations just because  of how soon this vaccine was  developed,” he said. “It’s one  thing for adults to take it, but  children’s bodies are much  more delicate, especially 5 and  6 year olds. What if this messes  them up for life?”  

Northington says parents will  be concerned that their children  might accidentally receive the  wrong vaccine or the wrong  dose of the right vaccine. She  says they should ask questions  and not be afraid to ask staff to  double check before their child  is injected.  

“I would encourage them  to ask their physician, and not  their family, their friends, or  other parents on social media,  what kinds of symptoms they  should expect after their child is  immunized,” she said. “Parents  may also ask if the COVID  vaccine can be given with other  childhood immunizations.” 

Starting this week, all  state health departments in  Mississippi will be delivering  free shots of the Pfizer vaccine.  Parents who want to get their  kids vaccinated should go to the  MSDH website to schedule or  speak to a physician. 


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Doctors say benefits of children’s COVID vaccine far outweigh the risks, parents opinions split

By Brad Franklin
November 22, 2021