Never in my wildest dreams did I think that after the successful development of a COVID-19 vaccine that it would take nearly a year to produce a similar tool to protect children, but here we are. And I’m grateful for it. You can find a vaccine dose for your 5-11 year old at vaccines.gov.
I was asked this week if I recommend the pediatric vaccine. My answer is an unequivocal “yes.” And like a lot of parents, I spent the hours following the announcement searching for a dose for my 10 year old. We are so looking forward to putting this pandemic behind us. My son asked that we gather all of his neighborhood friends to get vaccinated together. So the parents and I have all made plans to pull our kids from school on Tuesday to go to a pediatric vaccine clinic together. The kids are eager and I admire their sense of solidarity. Together, we all seem to be motivated by a strong desire to get back to “normal.” No more missed school days due to quarantine, they could play together indoors after school, we could eat inside of a restaurant, etc.
I would caution my friends in the media to remember that we can normalize good behavior, but just as easily we can normalize bad behaviors too. And we have seen far too much normalization of fringe ideas with the roll out of adult and adolescent vaccines that have no basis in fact or reality. If we feed into the confirmation bias of looking for a reason not to get vaccinated, then how does that ultimately accomplish the goal of protecting communities? Our motivation has to go beyond page views and clicks.
A lot of the concerns that I’ve seen raised about vaccines are unrealistic “what if” scenarios. What if the vaccine causes infertility (there’s no evidence whatsoever that it does)? What if it impairs their development (there’s no evidence whatsoever that it does)? We could just as easily say what if the vaccine gives me superpowers? What if the vaccine makes me better at French? All of these point to a person’s fear, but also they are looking for someone to validate that fear and tell them it’s okay to not get vaccinated. There are a lot of real life scenarios where we are scared to do something, but we push through and do it anyway. Or things that entail risk, but we manage those risks and do them anyway. For example, there’s a fair amount of risk in getting in your car and driving to work everyday. But we accept that risk. The suggestion that vaccines cause infertility is disproven and far-fetched to begin with. It’s like saying that I shouldn’t go for a walk outside today because a plane may fall out of the sky and land on top of me. It is an unrealistic and unlikely boogeyman. Stop being gullible. Every doctor and public health professional I know is moving heaven and earth to get their children vaccinated this week. These are the people who have seen what COVID-19 can do, including to kids. I wouldn’t ask a doctor to fix my car engine because they’re not an expert in that field. But I do ask my doctor to fix a medical problem. And the doctors are in agreement recommending pediatric vaccines for 5-11 year olds.
The newsletter is going to a subscription model to see the entire work because of the time that it takes to gather data, analyze them and then write about them. I’ve done this work for free for most people for the past 18 months. But now that I have a traditional job, the COVID-19 side project eats into valuable evening and weekend family time. The only way I can continue to justify this time away from my family is if I’m being paid for the effort.
The rest of this week’s newsletter will address the following:
Curious data corrections for cases and hospitalizations among children in Georgia, along with Georgia trends more broadly
A look at the national trends for COVID-19 data