Articles, tweets, and social media posts are all buzzing after Pfizer announced a study that shows low doses of it's COVID 19 vaccine is safe and effective for children as young as 5 years old, triggering a healthy and robust immune system equivalent to that of teenagers and adults who take the same vaccine in higher doses.
This might seem like great news to help parents, teachers, and pediatricians feel a bit more hopeful as COVID-/Delta outbreaks continue to disrupt education.
For a bit of context: Since schools have begun, even with the mask mandates, child cases have increased by 500,000 since school began.
But with endless debates about vaccine safety, mask mandates, and civic duty vs. oppression, will the vaccine approval really make a dent in the efforts of our health officials? There are a few things that make me wonder if we should be celebrating just yet.
One concern: will parents wait until the vaccine is approved?
Pfizer still needs to submit its data to the FDA before it can really be deemed safe for kids. Even if the information was sent in by the end of this week, the reviewing process could take weeks, even up to a month. Since Pfizer is currently approved by the FDA for 12-year-olds, some parents are asking pediatricians to bend the rules by giving it to their 11-year-olds. Thinking the current dose safe, parents unknowingly are injecting their pre-teens with three times the recommended amount for that age, according to the latest study.
Second (and this is the big one): will enough parents find the vaccine safe enough, even if approved by the FDA?
According to an interview in the Washington Post, pediatric disease specialist Sharon Nachman said that while the new child vaccine development is a "huge, huge step forward," she is still "cautiously optimistic" about the news. The vaccine side effects on muscle inflammation in the heart is certainly just one disconcerting aspect, even though officials say the benefits outweigh the risks.
Third: will parents even see the vaccine as necessary?
Many parents see the disease as harmless to young children, considering few report severe illness after receiving diagnosis. Or, they think that alternative methods, like higher vitamin doses, can prevent it.
This logic doesn't take into account that children are still being hospitalized, can still spread COVID to those with compromised immune systems, and reports show that it is, in fact, not harmless.
All of my concerns really stem from a much larger one, which is a widespread lack of accurate information due to fear mongering by unqualified influencers posing as health experts. No new news here, I know, but case and point below.
Special thanks to @scitimewithtracy for patiently debunking.
@scitimewithtracy ##duet with @scitimewithtracy part 2. ##turnsoutthat ##datadrivendiva ##TeamofTomorrow ##vaccine ##misinformation ##covid19
♬ original sound - ProfTracy
Personally, I understand the fear. At their core, parents want to do the right thing by their kids. No matter what side of the vaccine debate they stand on, parents are assuming a great deal of risk in their decisions, and I'm sure make no decision lightly.
However, I will leave this tweet from Ryan J. Reilly, showing a jaw dropping visual presentation of the current COVID death toll, as a lasting image indicating what everyone is really risking by not taking action:
Quite stunning to see the COVID death toll represented like this. https://t.co/mae0A9nWDw— Ryan J. Reilly (@Ryan J. Reilly) 1632097978.0
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