A mother’s and pediatrician’s take on COVID-19 vaccines for children

Through Patricia Clay

Updated: 11 hours ago Posted: 11 hours ago

When the FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 at the end of October, I knew our clinic would quickly be inundated with parents concerned about protecting their little ones. As a pediatrician – and as a parent to a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl – I hailed this medical news as a major step towards a chance to get back to normal.

But I also know that I practice pediatrics at a time when misinformation abounds. For better or for worse, and I would say worse, ours is a time when tons of data and research from sacred institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, CDC, and Johns Hopkins University, where I got my master’s degree in public health, can be called into question by little more than a dubious source YouTube video.

And I find that terribly disheartening.

And yet, I want to believe that these are still the best times.

I believe so because, in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, the world has risen to the challenge quickly and responsibly and has developed and tested life-saving vaccines that are proving to be extremely safe and effective.

Now, of course, I fully understand the concerns of parents. Every parent who takes their toddler’s hand or pushes a stroller across the street to get to the park is constantly on high alert for any potential threat or danger. It’s the way we’re wired.

So imagine how I felt when – during my son’s first week of pre-K – he contracted COVID. Or how I felt when my whole family then tested positive within two weeks of testing positive. I can assure you that I was anxious the entire time we were isolated.

Fortunately, none of us had severe symptoms or required hospitalization. Even so, weeks and weeks of isolation are not a picnic for any of us. And they are especially difficult on young children whose grandmother lives just two doors away – as my children are fortunate enough to have – and they are unable to give her regular loving, loving hugs due to fear of spread the virus to a more vulnerable family member.

So you can rest assured that my son will receive his COVID vaccine on his fifth birthday. His pediatrician – and his mother – will make sure.

I see the children’s vaccine as an indispensable layer of protection for our children against the realities of the world they live in today. Much like making sure your toddler has a warm coat in the winter, making an appointment to get your child vaccinated is a smart parenting decision that makes good sense, especially when the risks of complications from COVID are considerable. higher than vaccine complications. .

I’ve seen dozens of kids growing up terrified of being in a room with an adult who isn’t their parent. I have seen children who do not yet know how to interact with their peers because they have been out of preschool or daycare since March 2020. It will be years before we fully understand the long term social implications that weigh on our children. as a result of COVID. As a pediatrician and a parent, I will find it both fascinating and sad to learn more about these long-term effects.

The vaccine gives them a chance to catch up and live the life they deserve and the life we ​​want for them. They have suffered a major setback in education and classroom development and we have a real chance to get them back on track.

Of course, beyond the social costs, there are the economic costs. When a caregiver has extended periods of unpaid leave due to COVID-related stoppages or COVID exposures, or is required to work from home while providing full-time child care, it affects the entire household and its long-term economic stability. Housework.

So I want to see the children and their parents who have not yet been vaccinated roll up their sleeves. I promise you that our communities will be healthier and stronger when they do. Let’s take Alaska into 2022 with renewed confidence in the effectiveness of life-saving vaccines.

Dr Patricia Clay is an outpatient pediatrician who has practiced in Anchorage since 2016 and completed her pediatric training at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

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