NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — The Gardner family has learned to manage risk and reward during the pandemic.
Andrew Gardner with his family. “We weigh the risks and benefits of their vaccination at their age,” he said of younger children. (Courtesy: Andrew Gardner)
The family, which consists of six children between the ages of 15 and a newborn, said they should carefully examine each choice.
“We’re looking at education, the risk of going to school in person versus online — the risk of wearing a mask versus not wearing a mask,” Andrew Gardner said. “And each of those choices has a plus and a minus.”
The data scientist said his family did the same when it came to the COVID-19 vaccine. Gardner, his wife and their older children have been vaccinated. But he said they’re not rushing their 6-year-old, who is now eligible for Pfizer’s lower-dose shots.
“We see the risk and the reward strongly for ourselves as adults. We see the risk and reward as strong for our teens. And right now – as our younger children have had COVID and have natural immunity – we are weighing the risks and benefits of their vaccination at their age,” explains Gardner.
dr. Meena Iyer, Chief Medical Officer at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin and Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs at UT Austin, Dell Medical School, said children have some immunity after COVID-19 infection, but added: “It is not as strong as building immunity from getting the vaccine.”
Children 5 years and older can now receive COVID-19 injections: The Pfizer vaccine is two doses. It is recommended to give the second injection three weeks after the first.
According to data from the state health department in Texas, more than 12% of children ages 5 to 11 have received the first dose of the vaccine since it was approved last month.
But doctors hear of parents who are hesitant and in no rush to give their little ones the injections they did for themselves or even their teens.
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“There’s so much information out there – they’re just trying to understand what’s right, because they’re making decisions for their child. So I still get a lot of questions from the parents,” explains Dr. Iyer.
Dell pediatricians and health experts recently teamed up for a public education campaign that encourages parents to vaccinate eligible children against COVID because it is safe and side effects are rare.
“Getting a child vaccinated against COVID-19 can help them have a more normal life,” said Dr. Iyer in the 30 second video.
dr. Iyer explained that the vaccine could also provide protection if new variants such as the omicron emerge.
Impact of post-COVID disease
She said that as they prepare for what the holidays might bring, her team is seeing fewer cases. Last year, Dr. Iyer explained that Dell Children’s treated 10 to 15 COVID patients per day. Now there are three to four who have been admitted for the virus.
“There are some kids, especially if they have some comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, obesity — they can get very sick and end up in the ICU and need treatments like adult patients do,” said Dr. yer.
She explained that although the virus is milder in children, she is concerned about the rare post-COVID disease, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C. It can cause inflammation in various parts of the body, including the heart.
Dell Children’s has treated 70 MIS-C patients since the start of the pandemic. dr. Iyer said they currently have one patient undergoing treatment.
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“We still don’t know what the long-term effects of this infection are. So, since the vaccine is available, and we have scientific evidence that it protects against infection, we want to make sure that everyone who is eligible gets the vaccine,” said Dr. yer. “So that’s why we’re advocating that every patient or person who is eligible gets the vaccine.”
She also explained that the vaccines do not lead to MIS-C and that it is the infection that can cause the rare disease. She said if a child has had COVID or MIS-C, it is still safe to get the injections, but after some time.
The team of dr. Iyer is exploring the development of a clinic to follow up younger patients discharged after a COVID or MIS-C diagnosis to monitor their recovery.
She encourages parents to talk to their pediatrician if they have questions about its safety and effectiveness.
She also said families should continue to use masks, wash hands and maintain social distancing, which she says will also help with other viruses such as the flu. This is especially true if more people participate in larger gatherings.
Dell Children’s will host COVID-19 vaccine clinics at the Austin Independent School District Performing Arts Center, where walk-ins are welcome on Monday, December 13 from 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM and Saturday, January 8 from 8:00 AM to noon.
In a report released in October, researchers from the Universities of Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern found in a study of 50 states that parental concerns about the vaccination had increased “significantly” from June to September 2021. vaccine has been adequately tested were also considered.
“The risk-reward profile that a person has in their mind for themselves, of what they will do for themselves, is a different paradigm than what they have for a small child,” Gardner explained.
Andrew Gardner said his family had to deal with risks and rewards from school, masking and now the COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic. (Courtesy: Andrew Gardner)
He said his family all got COVID in August, including his wife who was giving birth to their daughter.
“We were both vaccinated, so it was pretty mild,” Gardner said. “And I certainly wouldn’t say, ‘Hey, you’re vaccinated, go ahead and get COVID, it’s not a problem.’ It was a big problem.”
He said the children eventually recovered without complications, but were still closely monitored.
His family has spoken to their pediatrician and he explained that at the moment they are just trying to make the best decision possible for their younger children.
“I think we should all take a step back and recognize that we are doing our best. No one is trying to put their child at risk.” Garner said. “[We’ll] probably end up vaccinating at some point, but for the little ones, we’ll just have to see.”