This past week, Pfizer announced they are seeking FDA approval for their Covid-19 in children ages 12 and up, and Moderna is currently conducting trials with their vaccine in children as young as 6 months of age. These are big developments in our efforts to end this pandemic. While we don’t have a great timeline yet for when these vaccines will be approved for children, I’m sure many of you have questions and reservations about giving your child a Covid-19 vaccine.
I don’t blame you; I did as well. It is a very personal decision. I know for myself the decision to take the Covid-19 shot was an easy one, since I’m around sickness and probably Covid-19 every single day. But when it comes to my daughter, I had to think about whether the shot was worth it. After all, she isn’t even in school yet. We don’t let her be around anyone who is sick and have even put off play-dates with other kids to try and keep her as healthy as possible, even though she is almost two. Not to mention, no parent really ever wants their child to have a shot.
So, why did my wife and I ultimately decide to vaccinate our daughter against Covid-19 as soon as it is approved for her age? To help answer that, let me tell you about another virus that we’ve been safely vaccinating our children against for almost 60 years. It’s called rubella (or German measles as some older members of our community may remember it). From 1964-1965, the United States saw an outbreak of a virus that infected around 12.5 million people. Half the people who got it didn’t even know they had it. The other half had a mild rash, and sometimes got fever, sore throat, and fatigue. Sound like anything else we’ve been dealing with recently? So, if it was so mild for most people, why did we even develop a vaccine against it?
The reason was that if a woman was infected with the rubella virus when she was pregnant, she had a higher chance of having a miscarriage or giving birth to a baby who was deaf, blind, or mentally disabled, among other problems. During that one outbreak in the US, 11,000 pregnant women lost their babies and 2,100 newborns died, not to mention all the babies who have suffered problems since then. But the rest of the population, toddlers to senior citizens, had no issues. A vaccine for children was developed, however, because the devastation the virus could do to a small portion of the population was too great for us to all accept. We’ve been routinely vaccinating our children against rubella ever since, and thankfully the US has never seen an outbreak like that since.
This is the reason why we’ve decided to vaccinate our daughter against Covid-19 as soon as we can. Not because we’d be very worried about her if she was to get sick. While Covid-19 has unfortunately killed some children, and as parents we never want our child to be sick at all, her risk is ultimately low. We choose to vaccinate her to protect others: great-grandparents, a grandmother with cancer, teachers, veterans, everyone we’re around. I’m convinced after looking at the numbers, studying how the vaccines work, and reading the research myself that the Covid-19 vaccines in use are safe, and that the benefits of vaccinating my daughter outweigh the risk. I encourage each of you to consider the same for your child. Reach out to your child’s pediatrician so you can ask questions specific for your situation.
I have never lived through a rubella pandemic thanks to a vaccine. I will vaccinate my daughter against Covid-19 in the hope of ending this one.