Dara Kass, M.D., Explains Why COVID Vaccines Are Critical for Kids Under 5
There’s big news in the effort to protect our families from COVID-19 — children under 5 are eligible for the COVID vaccine for the very first time! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have determined that COVID vaccines are safe and effective for everyone 6 months and up.
As an emergency room physician and a mom of three, I know how seriously I considered any interventions for my children, especially when they were babies. I also know that if my littlest was 10 months old instead of 10 years old, I would be first in line to get him vaccinated like his older brother, older sister and both of his parents.
We know vaccines work and are safe. As with previous COVID vaccine authorizations and approvals, the stringent review process by the FDA and the CDC means we can feel confident in the science behind the vaccine and how it protects kids’ health. If you are still unsure, I would urge you to have a conversation with your family physician or pediatrician.
The Biden-Harris Administration has partnered with states, local governments and health care providers to make sure vaccines are available in places that parents know and trust. But ultimately, protecting America’s littlest ones will depend on us prioritizing vaccination for the whole family.
Here’s what I tell anyone who asks why these vaccines are so critical, and timely:
Most of us know the peace of mind that comes with being vaccinated and having our family members vaccinated. But it’s not just peace of mind you get with vaccination, you develop real, durable antibodies that prepare your body for exposure to COVID in the future. As our children head to camp this summer and school in the fall, we want them to build as much protection as possible now.
Children who are not vaccinated, even those who may have had COVID in the past, will head into their summer activities with incomplete protection against this virus. Would we let our babies play in the sun without sunscreen, even if SPF 50 doesn’t protect against all sunburns? We know that even if someone wearing sunscreen gets sunburned, it is still better than no sunscreen at all. That’s exactly what we are doing by vaccinating our children this summer. We cannot promise they won’t get COVID, but we know that if they do, they will face the virus with the most robust protection possible.
As the parent of an immunocompromised child, I think it is important to remember that when our kids get vaccinated, they protect their friends, too. Immunocompromised children, especially those who have had transplants like my son, don’t look any different than other kids their age. If your child is healthy, you may not think it is that important for them to get vaccinated, but even our youngest children can do their part to keep their friends safe.
So let’s take the time to get those shots in little arms or thighs to ensure all our children are up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations and have the best protection they can for a great summer. Talk to your pediatrician if you have any questions, then schedule a vaccination appointment for your child. Find vaccines for children at vaccines.gov.
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