We’ve received many inquiries from families asking our opinion on children receiving the COVID vaccine. As a reply, we’d like to share one of our pediatrician’s response to this question which also reflects the viewpoint of the physician group at Southdale Peds:
If the FDA and the CDC make the recommendation for vaccination of children 5-11 (as we expect they will do), I will recommend the vaccine. At that point, there will be what is considered sufficient statistical data that the vaccine is safe and effective at the dose recommended. It does not mean it is perfect, or guarantee 100% effectiveness. It does not mean there is no side effect to the vaccination, but that the side effects expected are lower than the side effects of a natural illness.
Covid will not go away. It will become an endemic coronavirus. That means we are all either (1) getting vaccinated or (2) getting Covid. While there are breakthrough cases that exist in vaccinated people, they are much less serious and statistically much less likely to result in hospitalization, ICU requirement and death. By protecting people by vaccination, you decrease spread of disease, and decrease the significance of the illness in those who end up infected in spite of vaccination.
The Pfizer vaccine works by exposing the body to an mRNA sequence, which tells the body to make a protein that is a copy of the “spike protein” on the Covid virus envelope. When exposed to that protein, the body recognizes it as foreign and makes antibodies and immune cells against that protein. Thus, when you are exposed again, likely with wild live virus, your body fights off the virus making infection less likely, or infection less significant if there is a breakthrough.
For a population, vaccination decreases vulnerable hosts and decreases spread of infection. For an individual, it decreases your risk of infection and the risk of you spreading it to someone else.
There are side effects from the vaccine, as with any medication or vaccine. The side effect that is the most concerning in the 12-17 yo male population was myocarditis. Those cases that were vaccine related were very short, and resulted in no other complications and full recovery in a matter of days. The other side of that is, we know that Covid infection can cause lasting effects and side effects, and that in the 12-17 year age group, you are more likely to have myocarditis from infection than from vaccine, and it is more likely to result in lasting effects or limitations.
No one should tell you that we know everything about the vaccine. We know there have been hundreds of millions of doses used, and that the benefit is statistically overwhelming. But we have less than 2 years of data. It is absolutely true that most people, and especially children, who get Covid will do fine. And the likelihood of a complication in children is very small. The population statistics that I have seen, in the 12-7 year age range, show statistically better outcomes with vaccine versus true infection and illness.
I have no concerns recommending the Covid vaccine for those that it has been approved, and I strongly encourage it for those who can get it.