With the anticipated emergency FDA authorization of Pfizer COVID vaccines for children as young as five years old next week, we may be seeing a new trend in vaccine hesitancy emerging. A recent survey shows that at least one-third of parents who are themselves vaccinated will not be taking their children to get the shot. Or at least not right away. NBC News interviewed some parents who fall into that category and their reasons don’t sound all that different from some of the adults who are still holding off. One example is Sarah Beth Burwick, a lawyer in Los Angeles who is also the mother of two children aged 2 and 5. She and her husband got vaccinated as soon as they were eligible and her kids are already vaccinated against all of the typical childhood diseases, so she’s not an anti-vaxxer. But she won’t be taking her five-year-old to the clinic next week or in the foreseeable future for a COVID shot.
“There would need to be information out there to convince us it was necessary first,” Burwick, 37, said. “I would say I think it’s unnecessary. And I’m uncomfortable with how quickly it’s rolling out with such a small study.”
Another example is Michelle Goebel, 36, an engineer in Carlsbad, California, and the mother of three children. Much like the Brunswicks, Goebel and her husband, along with both of their parents, are vaccinated against COVID. The children are up to date on their shots, including the flu vaccine. But her kids will not be getting the Pfizer shot right away. Her reasons were much the same.
“I’m not opposed to vaccinating them in the future, maybe, but right now my husband and I are not comfortable with the data,” she said. “I need more numbers. I want to see any reported reactions as the numbers increase. I think I would like at least a year out from the trial data to follow up with those original participants to just make sure nothing popped up basically.”
“I’m totally for approving a vaccine for them and making it a parental and pediatrician choice based on a child’s risk profile or comorbidities,” she said, but she believes “our state is rushing it when we don’t mandate flu vaccines for kids.”
These are all seemingly sane, rational, responsible parents and they are expressing valid concerns. Only 1,500 children received vaccinations in Pfizer’s trials. Even some of the doctors from the FDA have already conceded that the number wasn’t nearly large enough to detect some of the more rare side effects that have already been seen in adults, including myocarditis and nervous system issues. There is also zero data about potential long-term effects from exposure to the vaccines. (The same is true for adults unless you consider a maximum of 14 months to be “long-term.”)
These parents are also aware that incidents of severe cases of COVID in children remain very rare. And while the death of any child is a tragedy, the number of children who have died from COVID in the Unites States is minuscule.
So here’s a question for us all to consider. NBC News manages to make it through the entire linked article without once demonizing these hesitant, vaccinated parents or accusing them of putting the rest of the world in danger. So why is it that the media can’t manage to extend the same courtesy to adults who have similarly held off getting vaccinated themselves, particularly when almost all of them are citing the exact same reasons for choosing not to do it?
Is it just because these parents are vaccinated so the media can’t just dismiss them as “deranged, right-wing anti-vaxxers” and call for their banishment? That’s the only explanation that comes to mind for me. But don’t worry… that day is coming soon. California is preparing to make COVID vaccinations mandatory for all children who wish to attend school for in-person learning.
Michelle Goebel, from the linked article, is already expressing alarm about that prospect and “hopes” that it won’t come to that. I’ve got bad news for her. It’s going to come to that and far sooner than she thinks. And then, despite having been vaccinated herself and simply seeking more and better medical information, she will be canceled for being part of the forces of darkness. None of this should be happening and you shouldn’t simply accept this as the new normal. Make your own healthcare choices and allow others to make theirs.
Do. Not. Comply.