June 14, 2021 ~ Healthy Kids, Happy Kids.com

Should Kids get a Covid-19 Vaccine?

A pediatrician’s perspective ~ by Elisa Song, MD

With Commentary from Mark Bricca, ND below

Some parents had already decided that they were going to be the first in line to get a COVID-19 vaccine, as soon as Emergency Use Authorization was granted by the FDA for use in 12 to 15-year-olds on May 10, 2021. Other parents had already decided that there was no way they would ever get a COVID-19 vaccine for their kids, even if Emergency Use Authorization was granted.

This article is not for either of those parents.

This article is for those parents who have questions. Those parents who may have had the vaccine themselves, and who may want the vaccine for their kids, but have hesitations about the novel mRNA technology and lack of long-term safety data in kids. Those parents who, in light of the fact that the risk to the vast majority of kids for serious disease and death from COVID-19 is so low, and a link to myocarditis and the vaccine is probable, want reassurance that the vaccine’s short-term and long-term risks for serious adverse events are as low, or lower, than the risk from COVID-19 infection.

I am here as a Stanford-, NYU-, UCSF-trained pediatrician to share what I know to help you and your child make as informed a decision as possible, given the limitations of the information we currently have.

I am here to share the science – even if that science goes against your current beliefs and biases. Don’t just look for evidence that confirms what you currently believe is true – that’s called Confirmation Bias. That’s not good science. That’s not good medicine. That’s not good policy-making. That’s not good decision-making.

From writing the first article published on a functional and integrative medicine approach to COVID-19 on February 27, 2020, COVID-19: What a Pediatrician Wants You to Know (1) (an article that went “viral” within hours and to date has had over 1.3 million views), to experiencing the fear and panic that I never want any parent to experience when my 8-year old son, Bodi, was hospitalized in March 2020 with all the signs of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), long before we even knew what MIS-C was — I’ve poured my heart and soul into researching COVID-19 to help parents just like you navigate the pandemic with calm and confidence, using facts over fear.

Step back in time to March 2020, just after we went into lockdown. Just after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Remember the fear, the anxiety, the collective worldwide panic? We had no idea how kids were going to do with COVID-19. And if COVID was like the flu, which we believed at that time, kids were expected to do worse than adults – much worse. Now fast forward to June 2021, and we’re in a very different place. We know that the vast majority of children do well and survive, even if they get very sick, and even if they are hospitalized.

But fear has ruled our lives as parents for the last year and a half. Many of you are afraid of your kids getting sick with COVID-19. But many of you are also afraid of your kids getting serious adverse reactions from the vaccine.

As parents, we need to let go of the fear that gripped us in 2020.

It’s time to learn to BREATHE again. It’s time for us to start making calm, rational decisions for our children based on science, NOT fear.

So let’s start with the science.

COVID-19 vaccination in adults is protecting children

The science currently shows that COVID-19 vaccines in adults are effective in reducing serious disease, hospitalizations and death. They may even reduce mild and asymptomatic infection and transmission. (2,3) And the current vaccines seem to have efficacy against variants, even the concerning Delta variant (first found in India and named B.1.617.2). (4,5) A remarkable real-world experiment (6) where nearly all the adults in a small Brazilian town were vaccinated with the Chinese inactivated CoronaVac vaccine between February and April 2021 found a drop in symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 86%, hospitalizations by 86%, and deaths by 95%. In the meantime, surrounding cities in Brazil continued to have out-of-control surges with the P.1 variant.

Read the Full Article

Commentary by Mark Bricca, NC
I have great respect for Dr. Song and for how she approaches this topic.  She highlights the many unanswered questions that remain regarding vaccination in children and clarifies short- and long-term risks children face from Covid-19 infection.  In the end, she makes the case that there is not currently sufficient evidence to support vaccinating most children when potential unknowns/risks are weighed against potential benefits.  Her approach is scientific, thoughtful, and balanced, and she also raises a number of points relevant to adults and to long-term data that we still need to gather relating to use of the new Covid-19 vaccines.
With specific respect to our children’s health (as the papa to a 3 year-old), this section stops me in my tracks:

“The risk of dying of COVID-19 in US children 0-4 years is 0.34 per 100,000, and for children 5-14 years it is 0.16 per 100,000. (43) In contrast, the risk of dying from influenza during the 2018-19 flu season in children 0-4 years of age was 1.3 per 100,000, and in children 5-17 years that number was 0.4 per 100,000. (44)

In even starker contrast, before the pandemic suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death in our youth, only behind accidental injury. Children 10-14 years old were 13.3 times more likely to die from suicide than influenza, while children 15-19 years old were 27 times more likely to die from suicide than influenza. (45) Childhood anxiety, depression, and suicide have skyrocketed during the pandemic, and Children’s Hospital Colorado recently declared a state of emergency in youth mental health (46) as suicide became the number one cause of death for youth in the state. We faced an epidemic of childhood anxiety and suicide long before the pandemic – an epidemic that has only worsened with the social isolation that many of our children have suffered this past year and a half.”

Per the CDC, as of 2017-2018, almost 20% of children and teens between the ages of 2 and 19 were obese.  Of course, obesity predisposes these children to a host of preventable adverse future health outcomes.  I wish we could give just as much focus, attention, and energy to improving overall child health–to reducing childhood anxiety and depression and to preventing future cancers and cardiovascular disease.  This doesn’t mean we should continue looking into the merits of vaccinating children for Covid-19 IF science supports it–I just think we’re missing the forest for the proverbial trees on this one, if we actually care to look at the facts regarding the true risks most of our children and teens face.  Most risks are not related to adverse outcomes from Covid-19; instead, they have to do with mental health and chronic illnesses that are largely preventable via good nutritional and lifestyle care over time.

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