As we have watched the Covid-19 pandemic unfold, the focus has been on vaccines being the key to getting us safely through the crisis and back to our normal lives. When they first came out early this year, adults were clamoring to get the jab. Since then, many parents have eagerly awaited FDA approval for their kids to be eligible as well, especially since mask-wearing is optional in some school districts.
Despite recent approval for children as young as 5, however, some parents are wary of the lack of long-term data on the vaccine, as well as some of the potential side effects. This has resulted in anxiety over whether it is better for their kids to risk getting the virus or the jab.
Why Are Parents Vaccine Hesitant?
Getting a child vaccinated against Covid-19 can be a very difficult decision for parents. Clearly, they want to protect their kids, but on the other hand, many are deeply concerned about the potential for long-term vaccine side effects. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “In a survey of 1,000 parents, 57% said they were willing to vaccinate their young kids against COVID-19, meaning more than 40% were not…”
The same referenced survey, done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and their partners, “found many of those who are hesitant were worried about long- and short-term side effects, said they want to wait to see if the vaccine is safe or said they did not trust it.”
Parents are also concerned about the reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (inflammation involving parts of the heart) in teens and young adults (mostly males) who have gotten the vaccine. Johns Hopkins Medicine says, however, that “myocarditis is a much more common complication of having COVID-19 than from getting vaccinated.”
Even parents who want to vaccinate their children may be waiting until the vaccine comes to their kid’s pediatrician. They feel that putting their child through a mass vaccination setting with hundreds of people and an unfamiliar provider might be too traumatic.
What Do The Experts Say About Covid And Children?
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children are at a lower risk of getting severely ill or dying of Covid, however it does also note that more than 5 million U. S. children had tested positive for the virus as of mid-September, 2021. Even though the vast majority have recovered, some of those children have become Covid long-haulers.
In addition, getting the virus naturally has been known to cause severe disease in some cases. The CDC has published information about the link between Covid and Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). They state that MIS-C “is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.”
How To Talk To Children About Getting The Covid Vaccine
If you are getting your child vaccinated against Covid, remember that kids take their cues from adults. If you are very worried about this vaccine, you will likely convey that fear to your child, unconsciously or otherwise. If you or your child are reluctant or afraid of the vaccine, talk to your child’s pediatrician for reassurance. They can provide you with statistics about the virus in kids and about the vaccine side effects, as well as give you their professional opinion about the jab.
Then, if your child is old enough, we recommend first asking them how they feel about getting the Covid vaccine. Are they scared? Eager? What are their concerns? Explain why you feel it is (or isn’t) a good idea for them to get the vaccine. You can also compare getting the Covid jab with the other vaccines they have gotten in the past, and how they have protected them from childhood diseases.
Lastly, talk to your child about the potential side effects that can be expected from getting the jab. They might run a slight fever, have a sore arm for a couple of days, or feel yucky for a day or two. But those possible side effects are small in comparison to being able to do more things, such as being able to get together with family over the holidays and enjoying a more pre-pandemic lifestyle.
Your child will also be reassured to know that you will stay with them while the get the vaccine and that you will be there for them if they don’t feel well afterwards.
Let Us Help
If you or your child are very fearful about the pandemic or are showing signs of anxiety or depression, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.