6 Reasons Parents Don’t Vaccinate Their Kids Against COVID – Here’s What Experts Say

The longer we wait for the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for certain age groups, the more likely it is that children in that age group will not be vaccinated.

The Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of the vaccine for children ages 5-11 in late October, but nine months later, only 30% of children in that age group had been fully vaccinated. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were approved in June for ages 6 months to 4 years, but only 4% of children in that age group received their first dose.

A Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor study released Tuesday found that 43% of parents of children ages 6 months to 4 years “definitely won’t” vaccinate them. And vaccine enthusiasm only rises slightly from there: Another 13% said they would vaccinate their children only if they were required to go to school or daycare, and 27% said they “want to wait and see how the vaccine works for other young children.” The remaining parents are only 17% of the 471 parents of children under 5 years of age who have been vaccinated or are planning to be vaccinated “immediately”.

The survey also asked parents to explain their reluctance to vaccinate their children. We asked medical experts about their most common parenting issues to find out how they deal with them. Here’s what they had to say:

Concern: Vaccine is ‘too new’.

Do not. 1 A concern raised by vaccine-averse parents in CFF was that the vaccine was “too new” or not sufficiently researched or tested.

“The vaccine is not new. This has been happening for a long time,” said the doctor. Amesh Adalja, Senior Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins Health Center.

Dr. Ruth Kantula, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at MedStar Health, explained several factors that led to the relatively rapid development of a COVID vaccine. Although you may not have heard of it before the pandemic, mRNA technology was invented by scientists in the 1960s to create a vaccine.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a large infusion of funds to support clinical trials of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines,” Kantula said.

“Increased funding has allowed research programs to work at multiple sites and hire more staff to help produce vaccines. Additionally, clinical trials can recruit large numbers of study participants, including children, in a short period of time. This allowed data on vaccine safety and efficacy to be reviewed more quickly than previous vaccine trials.

Adalja also noted that the news is not a reliable representative of the threat. “Just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s unsafe,” he said, adding that we wouldn’t hesitate to buy the newest version of the iPhone because of security concerns.

“Every piece of technology that improved human life at some point was new,” Adalja said.

Concerns: I am concerned about side effects.

No one wants to see their child sick or uncomfortable, but many vaccines can cause side effects such as fever and soreness at the injection site. These can occur with the COVID-19 shot and pass quickly.

Parents may also worry about the more dangerous side effects they hear about from people they talk about or see on social media. Last year, for example, there were reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle and lining around the heart), especially in young men, after the second dose of the vaccine. It sounds scary, but most patients recovered quickly and the incidence rate was very low: the highest rate among 16- to 17-year-old males was 105.9 cases per 1 million of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This 0.0001% risk is much lower than the risk of complications from COVID-19.

Concern: COVID-19 is often mild in young children.

Fortunately, children’s COVID-19 infections are generally mild. Infections are rarely accompanied by symptoms that require a child to be hospitalized. But Adalja asks this question: “Why not reduce its risk with a safer vaccine?”

He explained that diseases such as rotavirus and chicken pox rarely cause severe illness, but we routinely vaccinate against these diseases.

Just because things are generally mild doesn’t mean issues can’t arise. When infections with the omicron variant increased last winter, so did hospitalizations for children. Nine out of 10 children aged 5-11 who were hospitalized during the Omicron wave were not vaccinated, which could have prevented their hospitalization.

“Yes, children get milder infections,” Kantula said. “However, children are at risk of severe infections requiring hospitalization, supplemental oxygen, and a breathing tube.”

Furthermore, “pediatricians are limited in the drugs they can use to treat COVID-19 in children,” Kantula added. Treatments such as Paxlovid and monoclonal antibodies are only approved for those 12 years of age and older.

There is also a small but real risk of MISC-C, in which the COVID-19 infection occurs before the body’s immune response causes inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, or other organs. Vaccination offers protection against this serious complication.

A recent study found that 6% of children who tested positive for COVID-19 presented in emergency departments experienced long-term symptoms of COVID-19, such as fatigue, lethargy, and cough, 90 days later. Hospitalized children were so sick that they reported symptoms of COVID for a long time. By preventing severe disease, the vaccine protects children from long-term exposure to COVID.

Concern: The vaccine is not very effective.

You’ve heard a lot of people talking about their vaccinated children contracting COVID-19. A child or adult may still test positive for COVID after receiving the vaccine, but this is not the most important indicator of vaccine effectiveness.

Vaccination provides strong protection against severe disease and complications. If your vaccinated child gets COVID-19, Adalja said, “it’s unlikely they’ll be hospitalized.” This, he noted, is the real purpose of vaccination.

“What we’re really trying to prevent is a serious illness,” he said.

Concern: My child has had COVID-19 before.

During a pandemic, most children have COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that by February 2022, 75% of children and adolescents will have antibodies that indicate a previous infection.

Because the infection provides temporary protection against the disease, parents may wonder if they should vaccinate their children. Experts emphasize this.

“Hybrid immunity” from both previous infection and vaccination is the “best form of immunity,” Adalja said, offering the most protection against multiple variants of the disease.

Concern: I am not clear about the dosage.

Some parents are confused about the different doses of vaccines for children. For example, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given in two doses of 10 micrograms to children aged 5-11 years, and three doses of 3 micrograms to children aged 6 months to 4 years. But a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old are not very different in size, and parents may wonder if, for example, they should wait until their child is 5 to get a higher dose.

But the dosage does not depend on the weight of the child. “Dosing is based on the minimum amount of the vaccine dose needed to get a sufficient immune response,” said Adalja, adding that “it took too long for children between 5 and 11 years old because they were trying to get the right dosage to minimize side effects.”

“As a pediatrician,” Kantula said, “I know that children are not small adults and that one dose of vaccine does not fit all. Children have different physiological and immune responses depending on their age.”

For some, there are other barriers to getting their children vaccinated.

One of the biggest predictors of whether or not a child should be vaccinated has nothing to do with their health. Republican or Republican-identified parents say they “absolutely” don’t plan to vaccinate their children, the KFF poll found.

Other parents’ concerns were less ideological and more financial or logistical. The survey found that 44% of black parents with children between 6 months and 4 years of age worry about having to take time off work to care for their children if they get vaccinated or have side effects. And 45% of Spanish parents with children of the same age said they were worried that they would not be able to vaccinate their children “where they trust”.

70% of parents of children between 6 months and 4 years of age reported that they had not yet talked to their pediatrician about vaccinating their children, so health care providers can help alleviate families’ concerns. children are brought for examination. But you don’t have to wait for your annual trip. If you have questions about vaccines, call your pediatrician to make an appointment to discuss them.

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