Jesse Riedlin, a father of two from Rochester, New York, breathed a sigh of relief this week. “My kids getting coronavirus was one of my biggest fears,” he told VOA. “Finally, the anxiety and uncertainty I live with can begin to ease.”
Readlin is relieved after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended last week that children aged 5-11 be vaccinated with the pediatric version of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The guidance entitles 28 million US children to a vaccine that has proven highly effective in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
For many parents like Riedlin, the development is highly welcome news. When her 7-year-old receives her first dose of the vaccine next week, and her 4-year-old receives a version of the vaccine in a clinical study, Reidlin hopes life can return to the years before. Is. Coronavirus pandemic.
“Playdates, at real birthday parties, eating inside restaurants, going to museums,” he listed as the things he looks forward to doing after his kids are vaccinated. “We have to fly to visit the family and just explore the big, expansive, exciting world again! It’s going to bring a normalcy in our lives that we haven’t had in two years.”
uncertainty for some
According to an October survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly three in 10 parents (27%) are eager to have their 5-11 year olds get a vaccine. A slightly higher number (30%) said they would definitely not get the vaccine for their child, while a third of respondents said they would wait a while to see how the vaccine was working.
“It’s honestly the hardest decision I’ve had to make for my child,” said Kerry Penno of Haupage, New York, the mother of a 7-year-old who is now eligible for the vaccine and a 4-year-old who isn’t.
Like so many parents over the past two years, Peno said that both she and her husband, who have been vaccinated, have had to make constant and uncomfortable decisions about what’s safe and what’s safe for their unvaccinated children. No. Everything from an afternoon trip to the mall to a full family vacation has led to uncertainty and second guesses.
“We traveled to Mexico this summer and had to do a COVID test to get back home,” said Peo. “My 7-year-old daughter screamed so loudly in the lobby, it was embarrassing. But I also feel bad because of how uncomfortable and awkward it would all be for her. I just want it to end.”
Still, Peano said he is concerned about the long-term effects of the vaccine and is not yet ready for his daughter.
“We’re still on the fence,” she said. “I don’t want to make a decision that could negatively affect his future without being able to make a conscious choice with me.”
Other parents rely on the safety of the vaccine but are still in no hurry to get their kids vaccinated. As the number of coronavirus cases drop across the country, many people don’t feel the urgency they might have felt in the first year.
Hilary Sardinas of Albany, Calif., said her eldest child is eligible for the vaccine. While she has confidence in the science behind the vaccine, she doesn’t feel pressured to get her son vaccinated right away.
“Maybe it’s a luxury, but we feel comfortable with the protocol at her school and live in an area with a high vaccination rate,” Sardinas told VOA. “My son has a fear of shots, and so I thought his friends figured it out, and waiting to do it in our pediatrician’s office, where he would feel more comfortable, was a good thing for him. “
While Sardinus is sure his son will get the vaccine before the end of the year, Peano isn’t nearly as convinced.
“I think the debate around the vaccine has become so political,” she said, “and it’s made me lose faith in where I’m getting my information. I want to trust the science, but I feel like it.” I don’t know what the truth is. You have doctors arguing on both sides.”
to trust or not
“Right now the only ‘experts’ arguing against vaccines are rogue doctors, rogue scientists and conspiracy theorists,” said Dr. Paul Offitt, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and one of the most notable vaccine experts in the United States. .
COVID-19 cases are less widespread in children than in adults, although the number of children and adolescents hospitalized with the virus this summer has increased nearly five-fold as the delta variant increased.
In the US, more than 8,300 children aged 5-11 have been hospitalized due to severe illness caused by the coronavirus. An additional 5,200 children and adolescents have developed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a condition associated with COVID-19 that often results in hospitalization.
The CDC trial found that the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine is effective in protecting children from the worst effects of the disease.
“The science on this is very clear,” Offit said. “CDC-approved vaccine is effective in keeping children safe from coronavirus.”
Despite the consensus among scientists, nearly one in three parents oppose getting their child vaccinated.
“I’m not against vaccination,” said Janelle Witten of Gastonia, North Carolina. Viton has a son who is eligible for the pediatric vaccine, and he is also pregnant. “But I’m not willing to put my children’s health at risk on a vaccine that doesn’t have data on its long-term health effects.”
Alberto Perez of Blairsville, Georgia, has similar concerns for his children.
“If it were a virus that killed 3% to 5% of children, I would get my kids vaccinated immediately,” he said, “but it’s not. I don’t think the coronavirus is as much of a threat as the vaccine-causing ones.” Unknown odds of long-term side effects – fertility issues, for example.”
Concern over future fertility issues was reiterated by interviewing several parents, but Offit said this should not be a cause for concern.
“It’s a misconception that science can refute,” Offit said. “Pregnant women in clinical trials had no problems. This is an example of people who are against vaccines throwing things against the wall to see what people would be afraid of. Because that’s when people were scared. If so, it is difficult to scare them.”
Offit said those getting the vaccine should be confident that long-term side effects will not emerge.
“When you get a vaccine, you have what’s called an ‘immune reaction’ almost immediately,” he said. “It does not rise years from now, it peaks within 7-10 days. That’s the reaction, and we know that because we’ve seen how other similar vaccines work.”
Some parents will probably wait additional weeks or months before getting their children the COVID-19 vaccine to make sure their children’s classmates have been vaccinated without any problems.
However, Jesse Reidlin said he waited.
“The chances of a child becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus are slim,” he acknowledged. “But they are still more likely to get sick from COVID than from vaccines. I hope this becomes the light at the end of the tunnel for my children as we break out of this uncertainty and get back to normal life.