It’s here, folks. Well, almost here. The FDA advisory committee has recommended the Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids aged 5-11. Now the FDA has to authorize it under emergency use authorization, the CDC then has to recommend it, and then it should be ready to go. Dr. Fauci estimates that kids will be able to start receiving the vaccine sometime in early November. Woot, woot!
Now, I know that not all parents will be raring to go as soon as their pediatrician or local pharmacy carries the vaccine. A Gallup poll from September found about 55% of parents would get their kids the COVID vaccine. But 45% aren’t planning on it.
Look, I know that this is a very polarizing issue, and although I have very strong personal feelings about the importance of vaccinating anyone who is eligible to be vaccinated, I know that many parents have concerns about it.
So I’m going to share my honest feelings about the vaccine, and why I’m going to get it for my 9-year-old son as soon as it’s available.
1. COVID Isn’t Always A Mild Virus In Kids
Kids aren’t supposed to die from viruses. That’s why we vaccinate them against anything serious, including the flu. Yes, COVID is usually milder in kids than adults, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same as something like the common cold or strep throat. As former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams points out, COVID was the sixth leading cause of death in kids last month.
Overall, about 520 kids have died of COVID, 143 of them in the 5-11 age bracket. Roughly 8,600 kids have been hospitalized with COVID. About a third of those hospitalization have resulted in ICU stays. COVID can be serious in kids, and we need to stop minimizing this.
2. I Don’t Want To Risk Any Long Term Effects Of COVID
Statistics vary, but a study published in Nature found that over 9% of children aged 2-11 who get infected with COVID experience “long COVID.” This means that their symptoms lasted weeks or months past their initial infection. Yes, 9% sounds low, but with thousands and thousands of kids infected, that’s a huge number of kids dealing with long-term symptoms.
Some of these kids have symptoms that are so serious they can’t get out of bed for weeks and have trouble concentrating in school. Others aren’t able to return to school or other regular activities at all, and need special rehabilitation services.
Death isn’t the only thing I’m concerned about when it comes to COVID and kids.
3. I Want My Kid To Be To Do More Normal Things
My kid has asthma—the kind that has sent him to the ER—so we have been extra careful with him during the pandemic. He’s back in school, but he still doesn’t socialize with other kids maskless or participate in other high risk activities.
I’ll probably still be cautious with him until the pandemic is a little more under control, but knowing that it’s unlikely he will get a serious case of COVID after vaccination will definitely free us up to do more. My kid has been so patient as we’ve remained cautious. He deserves more freedom.
4. I Don’t Want My Kid Worried About Infecting Grandparents And Others
My kids understand that it’s not just them we are concerned about when it comes to COVID infections. My kids want to decrease their chances of catching this virus because they don’t want to risk transmitting COVID to their grandparents, or anyone who is immunocompromised or high risk. I know my son will be relieved to know that he’s done his part to reduce the likelihood of this happening.
5. I Trust The Process And Safety Protocols The Vaccine Went Through
The technology for mRNA vaccines (like Pfizer and Moderna) has been around for over 30 years. Literally billions of people have received COVID vaccines, including millions of kids aged up and 12 (my older son is one of them!). The Academy of American Pediatrics recommends kids get this vaccine, so does my pediatrician, and so do thousands and thousands of pediatricians.
I trust people who have been to medical school and who have poured through all the available data. The FDA advisory committee voted unanimously to recommend this vaccine, on the grounds that the danger to our kids outweighs any potential risk to them.
6. I Understand That My Kid Might Still Get COVID, But I Want The Assurance That It Will Be Mild
No vaccine is 100% and I understand that even after my kid is vaccinated, he might still become infected with COVID. But the vaccine ensures that he will not get a serious case of COVID, and avoid the worst outcomes of the virus. The data has shown that already vaccinated kids aged 12-18 are protected from serious cases. Knowing that this will most likely be the case for my son, should he get infected, gives me enormous peace of mind.
7. I Want To Help Contribute To Safer Schools For All
The more vaccinated children there are in our schools, the less likely the virus will spread, and the safer school will be for all. I’m all in favor of the precautions schools are taking to stay safe, but it’s a lot for teachers, staff, and children. The more kids that are vaccinated in a school, the easier this all will be, and the sooner we can (hopefully) reduce some of the safety measures in place and get back to normal.
8. I’m Excited To Have A Fully Vaxxed Family
Since June, three out of four of our family members have been fully vaxxed, including my teen. Because we’ve still had an unvaccinated child in the mix (with an underlying condition), we’ve had to be extra cautious. We don’t socialize maskless with anyone unless we are sure they are not infected.
We will probably still continue to be cautious for some time, but at least we will know that if any one of us picks up COVID, we will all likely be fine. I can’t tell you how relieved I will feel once that is the reality.
9. I’ve Gotten All Recommended Vaccines For My Kids So Far
I will admit that when my kids were babies, I was a little non-plussed about allllll the many vaccines that were recommended. So I asked questions. I asked our pediatrician the rationale behind each vaccine, and discussed it all with my husband. Ultimately, I understood the importance of every vaccine that was recommended, and began to see that vaccinating my kids wasn’t just about their own protection—though that was important too—but also making sure these viruses and diseases weren’t circulating in the population, and putting vulnerable people in danger.
I got my kids all the pediatrician-recommended vaccines when they were little, and I’m happy to continue to do so now, with the COVID vaccine.
10. I Want This Freaking Pandemic To End
Kids aged 5-11 represent about 28 million U.S. citizens, who, as of now, are unvaccinated. As we saw during the COVID surge this summer, unvaccinated folks make up the majority of infections and hospitalizations. This summer saw a huge number of kids infected and hospitalized with COVID, including many PICUs filled to capacity. The Academy of American Pediatrics estimated that in September, kids made up 25% of all COVID cases.
If we want to get this pandemic under control we need to vaccinate everyone who is able to transmit this thing, including kids. Period.
So there you have it. I’m sure each of us have our own particular reasons why getting our 5-11 year-old vaccinated is important and meaningful. I hope that even if you aren’t ready to do the day the vaccine becomes available, that you will consider doing it soon.
If you are on the fence about whether to vaccinate your child, I urge you to read data from places like the CDC and AAP. Please don’t rely on Dr. Google or some random social media post. Also strongly consider speaking to your pediatrician—they know you and your family and can offer you personalized advice.
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