With the COVID-19 vaccine now available for children as young as 6 months, many parents and guardians are deciding if they want to get their kids vaccinated. Pediatrician parents are no different — many providers with children in this age group are having similar conversations at home.
We asked two pediatricians, Brett Moore, DO, and Megan Clary, MD, to talk us through their decision-making process for their own kids.
What did you think about when making this decision?
CLARY: I thought about a lot of different things. I thought about how excited I was when I was able to have my parents vaccinated, my husband's parents vaccinated and myself vaccinated. I remember how much better I felt about my family going to my parents' house and my in-laws' house.
MOORE: When we were first thinking about whether or not we needed to get the kids vaccinated, we looked at the possible complications that come from having COVID-19. We know there are issues like long haul COVID-19, issues with inflammation in the heart, in the lungs and the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS) that happen with COVID-19.
So we wanted to make sure we protected our kids from all of those things. We wanted to make sure we weighed the pros and cons of getting the vaccine, and it just shows that there are so many more pros than there are any cons to the vaccine. And that's why we made our decision.
What did you think about regarding safety? What kinds of things did you take into account?
CLARY: From the reports following the FDA and CDC meetings, the safety looks really good for the kids that were studied. The adverse events were actually a bit less than they were seeing in older kids. The headache, fatigue and muscle aches were the most common things they saw. The fever and chills were seen less often in the younger kids than in the older kids, which I thought was interesting.
For the safety profile, I also think it's interesting because so many of us being older family members have so recently had the vaccine. We can tell our younger kids how we felt and we can help them through knowing exactly what it's going to feel like.
MOORE: The safety aspect of the vaccine has been talked about a lot recently because people think the vaccine came out too fast. Although the use of mRNA technology for vaccines is new, the technology itself isn’t new. And as far as the process of approving the vaccine — doing the study, making sure it was safe, sending it to the FDA, sending to the CDC — that timeline hasn't changed. Everything that's done now is what has been done before, it's just the technology used to make the vaccine is different than what people are used to.
How do you, as a parent, balance the fact that there are things we still don't know about this vaccine?
CLARY: I weigh it that there are things that we still don't know about all vaccines and we're doing the best we know how. COVID-19 is an illness that I absolutely want to protect my family and my children from, just like the flu, just like tetanus, just like MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) – examples of some of the things we already vaccinate children for. And I, as a doctor will recommend things for my patients that I, as a mom, will do for my children.
What do you say to a parent who asks, "Should I get my child vaccinated?"
MOORE: When I talk to parents, I tell them that the most effective way to keep their child safe is to have them vaccinated. As a parent myself, the most important job I have is to protect my children. The best way we can protect our children from COVID-19 is the vaccine.
I recommend all children get the vaccine that are able to, but I know that a lot of parents have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. If families are hesitant about their child receiving the vaccine, I want to encourage parents to talk to their provider, because vaccinating children is what is going to keep them safe and healthy.