“I am not conspiranoid at all. My parents have passed the coronavirus, my son also. I know that the disease exists and I am not a denialist for saying that I do not want to vaccinate my son. “ For the first time, this Wednesday, Spanish children under the age of 5 to 11 receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but some parents like Elena are assailed by doubts.
Fear and uncertainty have been sustained notes in this pandemic, which are exacerbated when we talk about the little ones. It even occurs in Spain, where nine out of ten people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus who have had the opportunity and the childhood vaccination record reaches high coverage every year.
“Because right now?”
In conversations about vaccinating children, a mistrust is repeated: “because right now?”. Both Jorge and his wife, Carol, are already immunized. She has received up to a third dose for having suffered from cancer and her eldest son, 13, was vaccinated as soon as possible. However, with the little girl, 8, they are not so clear. “If you are vaccinated, you can still be a carrier of the virus and you can infect other people, I don’t see what the benefit of vaccinating my daughter is “, the father argues. “I do not know of children who are seriously ill in ICUs or anything like that.”
Elena, on the other hand, criticizes “the way things are being done” around the coronavirus in recent months. Find contradictions and “biased” messages, that have led him to mistrust the recommendation to vaccinate children. “Instead of calming me down, they make me more nervous,” she confesses, after telling that her five-year-old son suffered from COVID-19 asymptomatically in February and did not infect any member of the family. He also supports the decision in his experience in the school where he works, where they have hardly registered outbreaks. “Now, suddenly, they have to be massively vaccinated and, of course, they create doubts, when this has not been done with any type of disease,” he argues.
Given this, the pediatrician Marisa Navarro, coordinator of the pediatric infectious diseases section at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital, explains what a change of opinion may seem like: circumstances have changed. “It is recommended because currently those under eleven years are the ones with the highest rates “ of contagions, exposes. Before the low incidence did not justify the measure, but now, with the country at a high risk level, it is urgent to stop the transmission chains in the face of Christmas, and the vaccine is the best weapon for this, as pointed out by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics and the Spanish Association of Vaccination.
““Children under eleven have the highest rates of infection”“
And it is that, often, it has been emphasized that vaccines do not completely prevent contagion and are very effective in preventing serious COVID. Peror they also reduce the risk of infection. In fact, the clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine put the efficacy in preventing infection in children 5 to 11 years old at 90%. Furthermore, “if a vaccinated person becomes infected, the virus immediately stops replicating in the respiratory tract and is no longer contagious. So, a vaccinated person transmits the infection much less than an unvaccinated person,” Dr. Navarro develops.
These effects are reflected in the data. Currently, the incidence in the 0 to 12 year-old group, the only one not vaccinated, is 649 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last fourteen days, that is, 135 points above the next most affected group (40 to 49 years) and more than 200 points above the national average.
“If it reduces the chances of contracting the virus, if I would vaccinate her. Not only for her, but for her grandparents and mother, who has had a process of cancer. Things change a lot, “Jorge replies, when he knows the data.
The “fear” of side effects
Fearful moms and dads insist they’re not “deniers,” but they scare them the adverse effects of vaccines on your children. “We were in favor of the vaccine until they said they were authorizing it, so we haven’t been like that … it’s just that she’s eight years old!”, Says Carol, and says that the girl suffers from a kind of allergic irritation, which she thinks could cause her vulnerable.
““I am more afraid that I could have a negative reaction to the vaccine than that I could catch COVID”“
In this same Nanda repairs. “I am vaccinated and I had a fatal time with the second dose. My greatest fear is the type of reaction that this vaccine may have in a child. And more so in my son, because he is very assiduous that vaccines give him reactions, about everything, on the skin. Right now I am more afraid that I could have a negative reaction to the vaccine than that I could catch COVID “, She explains, although her husband is clear that he prefers that the 7-year-old boy receive the immunization. Both families will consult with their pediatrician to make a decision.
In this sense, the expert in pediatric infectious diseases, Marisa Navarro, assures that there are “some cases that behave seriously”, although most overcome the infection in a mild or very mild way.
More than pneumonia, the “multisystem inflammatory syndrome”, a strong reaction of the whole organism to the virus. It affects a “very small percentage of children”, but risk factors have not yet been identified and, therefore, “we do not know which children will develop a serious illness and which children will not.” The pediatrician also recalls that vaccines are included in the usual schedule for diseases just as rare as severe COVID in children.
Navarro cites other possible risks, such as serious co-infections with the flu or other viruses. Or the Persistent COVID, which also affects minors. “We have seen cases of children in consultation (…), from those who are very bothered because they do not smell anything to those who have a feeling of shortness of breath, a lot of headache …”, confirms the pediatrician.
And distrust of the speed of vaccines
However, there is another fear shared by all parents with doubts who have spoken with RTVE.es. “No vaccine has been made so quickly, They can have side effects that are not being known, “says Elena.” We do not know the consequences, it gives me panic, “agrees Nanda.” When I got vaccinated I took the risk because I understood that it was a benefit for everyone, “says Jorge.
However, Dr. Navarro argues that the vaccines have not been authorized for minors until there have been clinical trials to certify that “it is safe and effective.” The studies, moreover, have been developed from start to finish again, going through each of the necessary phases to be able to establish the appropriate dose (one third of that of adults) and describe the adverse reactions.
“We have the vaccines with well-done clinical trials and that guarantees that we will not have problems with vaccines (…). When you give millions of vaccines, maybe some case will have side effects, but it is worse to pass the infection naturally than to be vaccinated “, the pediatrician decides, with an opinion shared (and estimated) by the professor of chemistry José Luis Jiménez , in a Twitter thread.
In any case, the balance and the final decision is always in the hands of the parents.
“Summary (rates per million children with COVID):
a) COVID mortality: 74
b) Long COVID: 110,000
c) Vaccine side effects: 0.2 (and 0 deaths)
d) Death of father or mother infected by children: 1500
In my opinion, there is no color, COVID risks >>> vaccine risks“
– Prof. Jose-Luis Jimenez (@jljcolorado) December 7, 2021
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.