For many parents across the United States, the long-awaited news that young children would soon become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine was met with relief.
“I just got goosebumps!” Brendan Kennealy, father of two girls, ages 1 and 4, in Richfield, Minnesota, said Friday. He added that he would take his daughters to be vaccinated soon, once he had spoken to their pediatrician.
For many others, development has come with deep reservations. “I feel like it’s way too soon,” said Megan O’Donnell of York, Pennsylvania, who was visiting the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore with her husband and three children, ages 8, 3 and 1. year. She said she was worried about the effect the vaccine would have on her youngest.
A panel of experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention granted approval on Saturday afternoon, and the agency’s director was expected to approve final guidelines for their use later in the day, paving the way for the start of vaccinations. next week.
But reluctance about the vaccine for young children persists nationwide, especially among unvaccinated parents themselves.
In Middletown, Ohio, Akilah Edwards was enjoying an outdoor June 19 celebration with her children, Jakari, 1, and Ayva, 2. She said the festival came at the end of a long time at inside and away from people for fear of Covid.
“They’ve never experienced the park before,” Ms Edwards said as her children enthusiastically took in the music and festivities. But she said she won’t be vaccinating her children anytime soon.
“I’m not ready for this. I should do it myself first,” she said, adding that she was still uncomfortable with the vaccine. “I’m glad they’re doing it, but it’s scary,” she said.
Lindsey Douglas, pediatrician and medical director of quality and safety at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital in Manhattan, said she would “wholeheartedly recommend” the vaccine to all eligible children.
But many parents doubt the effectiveness of the vaccine in young children.
At an indoor playground in Woodbury, Minnesota, Teng Weng voiced concerns about the vaccinations of her two daughters, ages 3 and 6. FDA clearance for vaccines gave him “a little bit of confidence, but not 100%,” he said.
Pediatricians and public health officials are gearing up for a surge in persuading parents of the benefits of vaccines.
Although Pfizer’s vaccine has been available for children ages 5 to 11 since last fall, less than 30% of children in this age group are fully immunized.
“I remain concerned that there have been really low numbers of children aged 5 to 11, and even 12 to 16 year olds who could receive the Pfizer vaccine,” said Donna Hallas, director of the pediatric nurse. practitioner program at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
In Oxford, Mississippi, Edna N. Luckett watched her two youngest children play in a library and said talking with their pediatrician about vaccines helped her understand the choices available to her.
Still, she said she had no immediate plans to get her children, aged 10, 6 and 3, vaccinated. “It’s just the fear of the unknown,” she said. “We don’t know much about it. And especially in the black community, we don’t have a good history of being heard by health officials.
For other parents, however, the prospect of a vaccine couldn’t have come soon enough. Outside the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Kasey Gillette of Washington, DC, said Covid-19 arrived when her daughter, now 2, was a baby. Fearing that the lack of interaction would hamper her daughter’s social skills, Ms. Gillette decided last summer to send her to daycare. But she fears her daughter will catch the virus there or that when Ms Gillette returns to the office she will take him home.
Still, she said, she was ready to start opening their lives up to the world again. “It’s as if we had been at home for three years. Or is it two years? Ten years?” she said.