Editorial: Of children and the vaccine

When it comes to parents being unsure of whether they should give their children the vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, we get it. Parents are naturally protective; we are momma or papa bears protecting our cubs. It’s an instinct that lasts long into adulthood.

But we also understand the scientific process, and the exhaustive tests and the data to date clearly show that adults and children age 12 and over are better served by getting the vaccine than not. Parents must also consider that while the Center for Disease Control botched the initial diagnosis under the Trump administration by saying it was spread by water droplets more so than through the air, the medical community knows far more today about the virus than they did a year ago. To that end, the overwhelming evidence today is that the vaccines are very effective at preventing serious cases of the disease while negative reactions to the vaccines are extremely rare.

We also know that COVID-19 has been very deadly disease that, while most harmful to older people, has also infected more than 3.6 million children over the past year with 297 deaths as of late April. Statistically, according to one report, that’s in the 4-5% percent range of the people in the nation infected with COVID-19, and while not high it’s a far greater risk to children than getting the vaccine.

More importantly, children are often virus spreaders to others in the community, and with the virus mutating rapidly a key goal of state and national health care policy is to have a high-enough vaccination rate that we effectively snuff out the virus’s ability to spread. That’s likely not possible with a school population of teens and adolescents that are not vaccinated. In Vermont, where the vaccination rate is nearing 70 percent of those who are eligible, there is the real chance that the state would effectively prevent or stop the spread of the virus and new variants if a similar rate of vaccination were achieved in our schools by the start of summer.

To provide more assurance, Vermont pediatricians are leading a campaign to reach out to nervous parents with conversations to answer their concerns and questions. A key question is asking those pediatricians what they are doing for their own families, and they’re quick to say they’ve already gotten the vaccine for their children or are signed up at the earliest opportunity. For those parents who are eager for their children to get a vaccine shot, clinics are scheduled frequently in various parts of the state. In Middlebury, clinics will be held this week on May 20, two on May 21, and another on May 27 and more are being scheduled weekly.

While the momma bear instinct is to draw your child close to protect them, in this instance signing them up for the vaccine is the safest measure to take.

Angelo Lynn

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