Pediatrician Perspective Part 1: should I vaccinate my child?

Now that the FDA has authorized vaccination for adolescents ages 12-17, parents have questions. After surveying some of our members about concerns and hesitancy, we compiled some of the most common questions to ask Pediatrician and Medical Director at AllWays Health Partners, Dr. Lisa M. Scarfo, MD. Continue reading for part 1 of 2 to learn what Lisa had to say about getting kids vaccinated, the impact this year has had on students' development, and how to get adolescents socializing with their friends again safely.

Q: I'm a parent, and I had side effects from the vaccine. Should I be concerned that those effects will be even stronger on my child?

A: Just because you had a side effect doesn't mean your child will. The studies show that children have been responding well to the vaccine. Most side effects are mild and easily treated with rest and over-the-counter medications. The Pfizer vaccine has gone through the clinical trial process and approved by the FDA. I would urge anybody with any additional concerns to talk with their child's provider.

Q: My child goes to a small school; should I still have them vaccinated?

A: You should vaccinate your child even if they attend a small school. Every student goes home and interacts with their families, friends, and outer circle. Although in school they're only exposed to classmates, they're also potentially exposed to the contacts of every other child in their class. You and your children are exposed to everyone that the students are coming across in their daily lives. You have no way of knowing how wide that circle is beyond the classroom.

In addition, as we anticipate most children will return to in-person learning this fall, we may see requirements to vaccinate children. To ensure that your child doesn't fall behind or start school late, you should vaccinate them now. Over the last year, kids have missed out on interaction, and as a result social isolation has been tremendously difficult for this population. Getting kids back to school safely and being with their peers is imperative.

Don't forget; pediatricians have been on the front lines of this pandemic. We've seen the increase in behavioral health issues from kids hurting. Without in-person learning, they've lost out on the socialization that is critical to their development. Additionally, for kids with special needs or those who require additional assistance and therapies which they would normally receive in person at school, it is even more important to get back to in person learning. These students have missed therapies critical to their well-being and ability to obtain new skills. Vaccinating kids gets everybody back to school.

Q: My child just turned 12. Should I still vaccinate them even though they are right on the cusp of the age qualification?

A: Absolutely, the studies show that the vaccine is safe and effective for children 12 and up, so I would not hesitate to vaccinate a newly turned 12-year-old with the Pfizer vaccine. Next, the Moderna vaccine is going to be seeking FDA approval for 12 to 17-year-olds. All of the data confirms the safety and efficacy of vaccinating children ages 12 and up. I encourage anybody who has any concerns about their child or particular situation to talk to their doctor.

Continue reading part 2 of our conversation with Dr. Scarfo. 

Disclaimer: The content in this blog post represents the clinical opinions of the providers at AllWays Health Partners and is based on the most currently available clinical and governmental guidance on COVID-19.

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