Letters to the Editor: ‘Shocking’ piece on kids and COVID shots stokes hesitancy, pediatricians say

To the editor: Your front-page analysis “It’s harder to justify the COVID vaccine for children when the end of the pandemic is near” was shocking.

COVID-19 has killed nearly 700 children in the US so far. In comparison, flu deaths in children range from 100 to 200 per year. COVID-19 in children can also have long-term efforts; causing the multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which has hospitalized hundreds; cause countless lost school days; and promotes the spread of the disease to the community.

The logic of the piece is deeply flawed. It has considered whether, as the pandemic is easing – just for the moment, because it seems to be coming back until we manage to get it under control by vaccinating, masking and issuing mandates – whether we will have children should be vaccinated.

Actually? If we think so, then we should also stop immunizing children against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and a host of other dangerous infectious diseases. But if we did, those diseases would definitely reappear. We’ve already seen that happen in pockets of unvaccinated communities.

The article mentions heart inflammation (myocarditis) in young men as a possible reason for not vaccinating children, without also mentioning that this inflammation is generally mild, short-lived and treatable with ibuprofen and rest.

The piece will only increase hesitation and resistance to the vaccine. You have done a disservice to everyone who is working hard every day to fight this pandemic.

Steve Tarzynski, MD, Santa Monica

The author is a pediatrician.


To the editors: It is completely irresponsible to suggest that children aged 5-11 do not necessarily need a COVID-19 vaccine.

Children can get COVID-19 infections. Children can get quite sick, many have and will be hospitalized, and some have and will die. But death is not the only measure.

In my pediatric ear, nose and throat practice I see patients with ‘prolonged COVID’ quite regularly. I can’t tell them or their families if these life-altering, if not life-threatening, symptoms will ever abate.

The risks of COVID-19 infection far outweigh the risks of vaccination, for both children and adults. The vaccine is new, yes, but so is the pandemic. These vaccines are quickly cleared from the body within days, so it is absurd to compare the risk of a long-term side effect of the vaccine with the long-term sides of the disease.

Children deserve just as much protection as adults.

Nina Shapiro, MD, Los Angeles


To the editor: In the same paper, you posted two seemingly contradictory articles that were not in the Opinion section.

On the front page, a news analysis read: “COVID-19 shots for children are harder to justify as the end of the pandemic approaches.” In the California section, there was an article stating that shots help, even though the risks of COVID-19 to children are low. That article noted, “The disease has still killed some children and they can spread it to vulnerable groups.”

No wonder some people are still unsure about the vaccines.

Susan Sherman, Covina

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