Pediatricians and parents weigh in on COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months-4 years old
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Millions more children could soon be eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Clinical trials are currently underway in children between the ages of six months to four years old. Millions of children ages five and up are already eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children have made up 17.2% of total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. That percentage increased slightly over the last week. For the week ending Dec. 9, 23.6% of reported COVID-19 cases were children under the age of 18. Children under 18 make up 22.2% of the United States population.
Texas Children’s Hospital, based out of Houston, is conducting a study of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in younger children. In this particular study, the children are given either a placebo or one-tenth of a dose of the vaccine that an adult would receive.
For more than four decades, Dr. Jesse Parr has treated kids at Texas Children’s Pediatrics in College Station. Regarding, the COVID-19 vaccine in children, he says he understands parents’ concerns but ensures them the vaccine is safe.
“This is a vaccine technology. It’s not new. It’s been around and we haven’t needed it. It’s effective. It does not insert anything into your body permanently,” said Parr. “It triggers the immune system of your body to produce antibodies, to protect against a virus that can cause significant illness to normal, healthy kids, not just medically complex kids.”
Parents have mixed emotions about the vaccine. Lauren Whitehead of College Station and Courtney Perez of Bryan both have children under four, and both are expecting children soon. Although their views on the vaccine are different, both say parents have to do what’s best for their kids and family.
“I’ve been following a lot of epidemiologists and public health officials, and I’ve really been looking at all of the data around what they are, and all the research, and what it’s been taking behind the scenes to approve it from adults all the way down,” said Whitehead. “I am personally ready to jump out at it when he is eligible to have it because all of the processes that have been in place to make sure that it’s safe and effective for him and for my upcoming son, like, that’ll just be really wonderful for them.”
“I think it’s being pushed a whole lot, and I’m a little bit over it. I want life to go back to normal without all of the craziness, and I really don’t like the idea of the experiments with the vaccines on the kids though. That worries me for sure,” said Perez. “There would just have to be a lot more research completed and actually knowing things and the effects long term versus just trying to do this off a whim with emergency approvals.”
Parr says vaccines have been around for ages, and they undergo the same studies and processes as previous years.
“We can’t spend the time giving this vaccine to large numbers of people to make absolutely sure that it is absolutely safe,” said Parr. “We have to find a balance between being safe enough and effective enough that the advantage to an individual person is more than the risk to that individual person.”
Parr says it’s time to remove politics from the vaccine conversation and trust the doctors and the science.
“This has been a new horizon for most of us. My regret is that everything about COVID has become so politically polarized,” said Parr. ”The virus doesn’t care what party you prefer. It doesn’t care whether you’re a conservative or progressive. It doesn’t care if a child’s parents are conservative or progressive. It’s the same disease in everybody. We have an effective vaccine.”
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