Why even some vaccinated parents don’t plan to rush to vaccinate Covid children

Sarah Beth Borwick, a Los Angeles attorney, said she and her husband had their Covid-19 vaccinations “as soon as possible” and that their two children had received all of their childhood vaccinations “on schedule, without even questioning her.”

But it does not plan to rush to immunize children, ages 5 to 2, against Covid, although one may be eligible as soon as next week.

Borwick, 37, said, “There has to be information to convince us that it is necessary first. I would say I think it is unnecessary. And I am uncomfortable with how quickly it was brought up with such a small study.”

As the Food and Drug Administration prepares in the coming days to allow the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, some parents say they don’t plan to be ahead of the curve in vaccinating their children.

It’s not that they are skeptical about vaccinations as a rule – noting that they have received the Covid vaccination themselves and previously immunized their children against other diseases – but that they have concerns, questions and reluctance to administer the Covid vaccination to their children immediately.

They have concerns about the size of the pediatric vaccine trial, the amount of long-term safety data available, and the potential for side effects (including the rare heart condition myocarditis). They are also questioning whether the vaccine should be given to children when the risk of serious complications from Covid in children remains low.

Michelle Goble, 36, an engineer and mother of three in Carlsbad, California, said she, her husband and their parents have all been vaccinated against Covid “because we understand the age-class risks.”

Kindergarten students line up for class at the Long Beach Unified School District in Long Beach, California, on August 31, 2021.Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group via Getty Images

She said her children, ages 9, 6 and 3, are fully aware of their vaccinations, and “even got their flu shots last week.” But she is not ready to vaccinate her children if the Covid vaccine is given to them emergency use authorization.

“I’m not against vaccinating them in the future, perhaps, but at the moment my husband and I are not comfortable with the data,” she said. “I need more numbers. I want to see any reactions reported as the numbers increase. I think I would like to spend at least a year of trial data to follow up with these original participants to make sure basically nothing comes up.”

Just over 1,500 children ages 5 to 11 received the vaccine in the Pfizer trial (an additional 750 received a placebo).

Side effects of the vaccination included sore arms, fever, and muscle aches. However, the FDA said that Pfizer’s trial was not large enough to detect very rare side effects, including myocarditis observed after the second dose, especially in younger men and adolescents. There were no cases of myocarditis in the young child trial.

Goebel said she is taking particular issue with California’s plan to become the first US state to require Covid vaccinations for children to attend schools in person, which could affect millions of students.

“I fully support approving a vaccine for them and making it a choice by parents and the pediatrician based on the child’s risk profile or comorbidities,” she said, but believes that “our state is speeding it up when we don’t mandate flu vaccines for children.”

Brian Longmire, a parent in Southeast Texas, Tell NBC affiliate KBMT He didn’t want to put anything in his child’s body “it wasn’t totally necessary.”

He said that while making vaccines available at school is a good idea for some parents, he hopes it will remain an option for families.

“If it gets to the point where they’re trying to create a mandate or something like that, I’ll probably have issues with that,” Longmire said. “Every single one of them. Do whatever you have to do to protect your family and if you feel a vaccine is necessary for that, I think it is fine.”

More than 1.9 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, and more than 8,400 have been hospitalized. Nearly 100 died.

Opinion polls point to an uphill battle to convince parents about vaccinating young children. Only a third of parents said they would immediately seek vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

Whether children receive a dose of the Covid vaccine will often depend on where they call home, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data analyzed by NBC News revealing that stark regional disparities in vaccination rates for already eligible children are deepening across the country.

Paul Offit, a vaccine researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the FDA advisory committee that voted Tuesday to recommend Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccine for emergency use authorization for those ages 5 to 11, acknowledged the difficulty of the decision.

“It’s always annoying, I think, when you are asked to make a decision for millions of children based on studies of only a few thousand children,” he said. The question is, when do you know enough? And I think we know for sure that there are many children between the ages of 5 and 11 who are susceptible to this disease and can get very sick and be hospitalized or die from it.”

Dr. Wendy Hasson, medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, said that as the mother of a 3-year-old, she closely follows the children’s vaccine trial and pays special attention to it. Possible heart problems.

indicated the information From the Center for Disease Control “Most patients with myocarditis or pericarditis who received care responded well to medication and rest and improved quickly.”

“But we know that Covid-19 can affect the heart of all age groups, and this can cause long-term effects,” she said. “For me, in making this decision for my child, I feel very comfortable taking this very small risk of vaccine-induced myocarditis in order to protect my child from the risk of more serious complications from Covid-19.”

For parents who have concerns and weigh the risks and benefits, Hasson, who is also a fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics, said they should consult pediatricians and ask themselves questions such as: Is my child or other family member? Do you have any underlying risk factors for severe COVID-19? Are there people in my family who can’t respond well to a vaccine due to immunodeficiency? What is my community doing to protect my child (considering factors such as local vaccination rates and local rates of COVID transmission)? Is my school taking any precautions, such as using masks and physical distancing? How does it affect my family when my child has to be quarantined due to school exposure?

“I think one of the jobs we have as pediatricians is to make sure we’re prepared to answer those questions, because what I really hope parents do is take those appropriate concerns and then ask or ask for information to help,” said Dr. Jennifer Kusma, an attending physician in the Department of Advanced General Pediatrics. Primary Care at Ann and Robert H. Laurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago: “Ease these fears.”

She said it is normal to have concerns about making medical decisions for your child.

Julie Hamill, an attorney and mother of three in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, said she plans to speak with her pediatrician before making a decision, but is afraid of vaccine mandates for schoolchildren. She and her husband have been vaccinated, and her children are up to date on all their vaccinations.

“I feel my age, the risks and benefits are in favor of a vaccination,” said Hamill, 38, with his children 2, 5 and 7 years old.

“That’s a question, I think, for our pediatrician, first of all. And we’re going to talk to our pediatrician and he’s who we take our medical advice from.”

But she also worries that medical professionals will feel pressure to recommend vaccinations.

“It’s something that seems unnecessary based on the level of risk. I think one thing that would change my mind is if we start seeing data showing massive amounts of children have been severely ill or dying. That would change my mind. Absolutely. But the data What we see doesn’t show it.”

Hamill said she is not “totally closed” to the idea of ​​vaccinating her children.

“I will definitely continue to listen to my doctor, read the statements, and follow what is going on,” she said.

Kusma said pediatricians are “really looking for what’s best for children” and combing through the data and “all the literature that comes our way to make sure we’re helping parents make the best choice for their kids.”

“We really believe that this vaccine is safe from all of this data and that it has gone through rigorous trials like any other vaccine,” she said.

Goebel hopes that there will be an understanding for fathers like her and ultimately the ability for families to choose.

“We have evaluated the risk-benefit profile and are comfortable with allowing our children to remain unvaccinated,” she said. “I know there are a lot of parents who are willing to jump in line for 5- to 11-year-olds based on their level of anxiety. So, I feel that if we let anxious parents of 5- to 11-year-olds stand in line and get their kids vaccinated, they should We allow the other side, parents who are as comfortable as they are to stay that way. At least for now.”

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