What to know before vaccinating your kids

By Sahar Chmais

After Pfizer’s COVID-19  vaccine passed  for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for children ages 12 and older, the responsibility fell into parents’ laps. Parents were able to make the personal decision for their bodies, and now, they can make the decision for their kids.
Vaccine hesitancy has been seen across social media platforms, heard in gatherings and expressed to doctors. There has also been a sharp decline in people rushing to get the vaccine. During a commissioners court meeting on May 18, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said that the county is beginning to see a dip in the demand for vaccines from thousands per clinic to hundreds.
The Hays County Local Health Department began vaccinating children 12 and older on May 13, shortly after the vaccine’s approval.
Before taking the shot, especially if a parent feels unsure, local pediatrician, Dr. Anna Lincoln, suggests that parents have an open conversation with their family doctors and pediatricians, read literature on the vaccine through trusted sources and understand as much as they can.
But if a patient were to walk into Lincoln’s office wondering about the vaccine, Lincoln would support the decision to vaccinate based on the science and dangers posed by the virus.
“I have seen the data and I feel confident in [the vaccine’s]safety,” Lincoln said. “I have taken it myself and I’m getting my daughter vaccinated.”
Lincoln’s 14-year-old daughter was excited when she heard she was eligible for the vaccine. This move will help children get back to doing activities, such as school, hanging out with friends, sports and more in a safe manner. These are the activities that boost the emotional and physical health of kids, Lincoln explained.
While children are less likely to suffer the side effects of COVID-19, some still get hospitalized, go to the ICU and some die, Lincoln said.
Many of the parents that Lincoln sees have been thrilled with the vaccine approval, but some are unsure because they believe the data was rushed and therefore sacrificing safety. This is not the case, according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
“However, efforts to speed vaccine development to address ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have not sacrificed scientific standards, integrity of the vaccine review process, or safety,” according to the FDA.
The COVID-19 vaccine went through the same process as every other vaccine, Lincoln said.
According to the FDA, the U.S. coalesced government agencies, international counterparts, academia, nonprofit organizations and pharmaceutical companies to coordinate a strategy prioritizing and speeding this vaccine’s development. The federal government also made investments for the necessary manufacturing capacity at its own risk, allowing companies confidence to invest aggressively in development and faster distribution.
Lincoln stressed that at the end of the day, this is a decision parents and their kids get to make for their bodies, but it is best to make with information.
Children who receive the vaccine may experience similar side effects as older teens and adults. The most common side effects include: pain at injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain.
To learn more about the vaccine in kids ages 12 and older, Lincoln suggests reading literature from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA and journals from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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