Why the COVID-19 vaccine for children is more important than ever

I am with you. I feel the strain. I am both a pediatrician and a parent of young children. I am the proud mother of two boys, Blake, 7, and Dillon, 5. They are my world, my pride and joy, the two things most precious to me in life. Protecting them is my top priority, always.

One thing is universal with parents – their number one concern is the health and safety of their children. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the typical level of parental worry; many parents just taking it one day at a time as the virus and its effects on our local and global community continue to evolve.

That’s why I chose to get my children vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as the vaccine was made available to children ages 5 to 11 years old. Taking my boys to receive their vaccine was one of the greatest feelings of relief I’ve felt in nearly two years. When taking my children to their appointment, I knew this was one step I could take to protect them from this terrible virus.

As a pediatrician and parent, this is my message to parents: please get your children ages 5 and older vaccinated against COVID-19.

First, the vaccine is safe. The vaccine for ages 5-11 is a lower, kid-sized dose. Its efficacy has been proven, and it’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and our physicians at Advocate Children’s Hospital. The technology used to develop the mRNA isn’t new – it’s in fact decades old. The clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines faced the same rigor applied to all vaccine trials, and the results were reviewed and approved by multiple independent advisory panels.

Why the COVID-19 vaccine for children is more important than ever

Second, the side effects seen in children thus far have been much milder than those in adults. They may experience some of the common side effects such as headaches, muscle pain, fatigue or fever, but these temporary effects pale in comparison to the potential for serious illness caused by COVID-19. The benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks.

If you have questions about the vaccine, I encourage you to talk to your child’s pediatrician. Resist the urge to scan social media – there’s so much misinformation floating in that space. Your child’s pediatrician will be happy to take a visit or call from you to talk you through any concerns, hesitations or questions you might have.

More than ever, as doctors, we’re doing our best to understand the variety of feelings our parents are going through during this trying time. We are here for you, and we care for your children like our own.

As a mother and a physician, I have no doubts in my professional recommendation to parents; I urge you to get your eligible children vaccinated. It is your best shot at protecting them from COVID-19 and keeping them safe.

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