A briefing hosted by Ethnic Media on vaccinating California’s Youngest Kids. Parents Need to Know experts shared recent updates concerning vaccine availability. It was confirmed that infant and toddler COVID-19 vaccines were granted emergency use authorization by the FDA on Friday, June 17 following comprehensive clinical trials that showed the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for those over the age of 6 months. As California public health officials roll out the distribution of the infant and toddler vaccines to physicians and clinics experts discussed the benefits of vaccination for the whole family.
Dr. Lucia Abascal, California Department of Public Health in an overview shared her personal story of having contracted covid while pregnant with her 8month old baby and the challenges of that situation. This she said underscored the need for vaccines in general and now the availability of the vaccine for a new population demographic that now qualifies was very significant. She dismissed the idea that omicron is milder and kids are safe. It is wrong as kids are at acute risk for hospitalization and death. Long covid is also a factor that needs serious consideration in kids and protection from severe illness can only be achieved through vaccines. She reassured parents that vaccine approval went through an independent panel that recommended approval after which the FDA is brought in to create trust and transparency. Again they voted and approved to make sure. A safety profile of both vaccines was carefully applied after which it is brought from federal to state. Now California goes over data and determined that it is best. The state works with pediatrics that cover over 80% of the state’s children which is tricky since adults go through the pharmacy. and kids under 3 cannot get through the pharmacy. The state has purchased enough for the children in the state. There is hope and great expectation and parents need to know what is going on. She shared that Moderna and Pfizer will be available but Moderna is 2 doses a month apart. Pfizer will be available in 3 smaller doses with the first and second doses 21 days apart and 3rd dose 60 days. Moderna is one-quarter of the adult dose while Pfizer is one-tenth of the adult dose. As far as side effects, with Moderna kids have minor or mild side effects than Pfizer. They are both effective and safe. 2.2million kids will be eligible.
Dr. Jennifer Miller, Pediatrician, East Bay Pediatrics shared her experiences with parents and the concerns they expressed. In her practice, 3major groups of patients stand out. Parents who are anxious to get vaccinated are the first group, the second group thought they were ready but now have second thoughts and are afraid of the unknown and have questions. The third group who just won’t get kids vaccinated might be vaccinated themselves but worry for their kids until officially approved by the FDA. Most parents are concerned about side effects and worry that they are dangerous and deadly which is not true. Side effects are mild and a sign that your immune system is active. Worrying about fertility is also a concern but is also untrue as there is no data to support this. Myocarditis or inflammation of the heart which is mostly seen in older adults is a reason to get vaccinated since not getting vaccinated actually increases the risk.
Families worry about unknown factors and so do not want to take the risk. Some worry that the vaccine was rushed which is false because they all went through all stages of production built over 20 years of experience. No corners were cut and the vaccine will now be the most studied vaccine in history. She said she tries to understand families’ fears and will always suggest the best course for them as a resource. One in five kids will end up in hospital if not vaccinated and some have died. Covid is now in the top 5 for deaths in kids. Vaccines are safe in kids six months and over and protect everyone including babies 3months and lower, the immunocompromised, and the community. It gives back kids their social lives. Vaccines, she concluded are free and safe.
Dr. Sarah Takekawa, Obstetrician-Gynecologist, Kaiser Permanente, South Sacramento shared her experience of getting pregnant at age 40 with no problem and having a healthy pregnancy. She was fully vaccinated and boosted and has seen firsthand what covid can do to pregnant unvaccinated women. Being vaccinated gives antibodies to unborn babies through the placenta which is a big plus.