On May 10 when the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use on children ages 12-15, all of here at Alzein Pediatrics were delighted. We know firsthand the long-term, damaging effects of this virus on adults; our knowledge, education and continuing training informs us that, as this virus evolves, children will be at greater and greater risk for the same devastation.
The vaccine gave Dr. Alzein, Dr. Riff, Ms. Frank, Ms. Galyean, Ms. Cermak, Ms. Reule and all of us hope to stop the spread of COVID-19. While many of our patient families have had their 12-year-olds and teens vaccinated, many more still have questions.
We are here to explain common misconceptions surrounding COVID-19, children and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and why it is critical to get your children who’ve had their 12th birthday vaccinated as soon as possible.
MYTH – Kids just don’t get COVID.
While it’s true that children didn’t get infected at the same rates as adults in the beginning of the pandemic, experts says that’s probably because kids were pulled out of school immediately and kept in safe situations for months. As the country opens, the Delta variant spreads and children are exposed to more and more people, rates are rising quickly. For the week ending June 24th, there were 8,000 pediatric cases. For the week ending July 1st, there were 12,000 cases. For the week ending July 8th, there were 19,000 cases.
Children now make up over 22% of all new cases, as compared to nearly 17% just a week ago.
MYTH – Kids don’t get as sick from COVID.
In the beginning, most children seemed to suffer very lightly from COVID-19, but there have always been pediatric deaths and serious MIS-C complications. Studies show that even when COVID symptoms are mild, 1 in 4 people, including about 15% of children, experience “long COVID” or long hauler. Long hauler symptoms include:
- “Brain fog” or trouble concentrating
- Chronic fatigue
- Muscle and joint pain
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Depression and anxiety
However, the percentage of children who are now being hospitalized with the delta variant is rising and nearly a third of these children are being admitted to the intensive care unit. As the delta variant spreads, more children will get sick.
MYTH – This vaccine happened too fast.
We understand this question; the mumps vaccine took 4 years to develop and the COVID-19 vaccine seems to have been developed in less than a year.
In reality, preventing and eliminating the coronavirus family of viruses has been been in research for over nine years, since 2012. Because of advances in technology, scientists documented the viral sequence of COVID-19 just 10 days after the first reported cases in January 2020, giving them another enormous advantage – an even bigger jump start – in this particular vaccine development.
Because the health of the entire world depended upon preventing COVID-19 as quickly as possible, US government agencies, international governments, pharmaceutical companies, researchers and scientists and non-profit organizations worked together as never before to prioritize creating safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations.
It was a world-wide herculean effort that paid off with vaccines that work safely.
MYTH – It’s not FDA approved.
The FDA was meticulous in the data review before they authorized emergency use of the vaccine. The data was robust and extensive, including tens of thousands of testing subjects and evaluation of the chemistry, manufacturing and controls information of the vaccines. They reviewed all safety data, results, records, performed site visits and analyzed previous compliance history.
The FDA continues to be stringent and fastidious in their communication of any vaccine side effects and how to avert serious consequences. While FDA leaders urge us to get vaccinated without hesitation, formal approval is a longer process.
MYTH – There’s no benefits and only risks.
The risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine are immeasurably small. Severe allergic reactions have happened in about 2 people per million. About 35 cases myocarditis have been confirmed per million doses in teens ages 16-17. Myocarditis is treated with medication and usually completely resolves.
The benefits of getting a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine include:
- 95% protection from COVID-19
- Almost 0% chance of hospitalization if your child contracts COVID-19
- Protecting younger siblings, family members or friends who can’t get vaccinated from infection
- No missed days of school for infection or quarantine
- No need for quarantine if a school mate or teammate contracts the virus
- In-person learning opportunities
- No mask-wearing in public spaces
MYTH – It’s a personal choice.
Vaccinations of all kinds are meant to protect your family, our communities as a whole, and our most vulnerable populations especially. The COVID-19 vaccination is just like the polio or measles vaccine – getting vaccinated means your family has respected the need for good health for all people.
Just one in four adolescents are now vaccinated against COVID-19. Alzein Pediatrics’ goal is to have every patient over the age of 12 be protected, just like against other preventable, deadly diseases. Please call us today at 708-424-7600 with any questions, or click here to make a personal, private appointment.