With the ability for children as young as 5 to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the pandemic has the potential to take a serious dive in community spread.
In Oklahoma, about 375,000 children are eligible to receive the inoculations. Vaccines are continuing to arrive at pediatricians’ offices, health departments, pharmacies and hospitals.
Forget the politics wrapped up in the issue and information floating around the internet and flooding into your social media feeds and email. Go to your trusted pediatrician to get answers. Go to doctors.
Local pediatricians say about a third of their patients’ parents want the vaccines immediately for their children, according to a story from reporter Andrea Eger. Another third have questions or concerns or plan to wait until other children get the shots.
And about a third won’t get it at all.
It’s a myth that children are not harmed by COVID-19. The delta variant has been particularly harsh on children, being much more transmissible with more severe symptoms.
The virus is one of the top 10 leading causes of death for children in the U.S. The known deaths to the virus among those 18 and younger is almost 700, with 200 of those deaths among infants through 4-year-olds. And some survivors may have lifelong, long-haul health problems.
It’s now a vaccine-preventable illness, notes Dr. Donna Tyungu, pediatric infectious disease specialist with Oklahoma Children’s Hospital-OU Health.
No matter how a parent feels about the vaccine, pediatricians want a chance to talk to parents.
“It would be really beautiful if everyone would not use Facebook for this and not use TikTok and go and sit down and calmly talk it through with their pediatrician,” said Dr. Tyungu. “Get those questions answered by someone you know and trust. That would be the ideal world to be living in during a pandemic.”
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study showing that unvaccinated people with a prior infection were five times more likely to become reinfected than those who are fully vaccinated.
The child-sized vaccines have been shown to be 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infections. That protects children and those around them, including their caregivers and teachers.
Throughout the pandemic, Oklahoma ranked within the nation’s top for COVID-19-related deaths, hospitalizations, new cases and test positivity. Trends finally started going down in the past couple of months.
Child inoculations could drastically decrease the spread and emergence of variants. They have the potential to permanently change the tide.
We ask reluctant parents to talk in-person to a pediatrician and seriously consider the vaccine as a participant in public health.
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