Hattiesburg pediatrician answers vaccine FAQs

PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) — On Nov. 18, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported that 6,516 children between the ages of five and 11 received their first dose of the pediatric COVID vaccine. According to the White House, they are part of nearly 2.5 million children across the country.

Hattiesburg Clinic Pediatrician Dr. Victoria Sivils, MD says appointments have been made since the Pfizer vaccine was approved.

“We have had a lot of interest. In fact, our COVID Vaccination Clinics that we are currently doing in Pediatrics with Hattiesburg Clinic are fully booked. They are full, so we need to find places to free up places to get more kids in that age range vaccinated,” she says.

Sivils says she still gets a lot of questions about understanding the need for a pediatric vaccine.

“The most frequently asked question I get is, ‘Is it even important for our healthy children to get vaccinated against COVID?’ And my answer to that is a resounding ‘Yes.’ You know, children are affected by the Coronavirus, we’ve had hospitalizations and unfortunately we’ve had some deaths that are currently preventable with the vaccine for this age group, so I think it’s very important for those reasons,” said Sivils .

She says parents also often ask if it’s really necessary.

“An important explanation for why families don’t want to get vaccinated is that they’ve come this far in the pandemic. And why now? And my answer to that is always: ‘All variants.’ So the Delta variant we saw in [the] the summer was twice as contagious as a first COVID variant. And I expect we’ll have other variants in the future and the way to protect our children from those future, potentially more contagious variants is to give them their vaccines today,” she explains.

Sivils says she understands parents’ concerns, so she wants to talk to them and discuss the safest option for protecting your children.

“The most common concern I get is about the long-term effects of the vaccine. And when I talk to parents about that, I make sure we focus on what we know. So we know that COVID can cause complications in children in the long run. We know that it can cause multi-inflammatory syndrome in children. And so this vaccine prevents the things that we know are bad things that are associated with it, and so any long-term effects are a bit unfounded at this point. We’ve had 195 million Americans get these vaccines. So I think they’re safe for all of our kids,” Sivils says.

Sivils says there’s now a lot of research into pediatric COVID vaccines, and your child’s next wellness visit is the perfect time to ask your questions or get the chance.

“We have now studied the vaccines enough to know that it is safe to give a COVID vaccine along with another vaccine. And so our families are busy. They don’t want to have to come back to the doctor’s office multiple times. So it’s safe to give with routine vaccinations that are recommended, you know, at our wellness visits. It is often said that it is also safe to give the COVID vaccine with a flu vaccine. And we’re really trying to push the flu vaccine this season, because we’re afraid this flu season is going to be a big season,” explains Sivils.

MSDH now offers pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations. You can find a site here or you can contact your child’s pediatrician to make an appointment and ask questions.

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