Kids ages 12 to 15 began getting vaccinated in Kane County on Thursday, as the Kane County Health Department started offering the Pfizer shot after it was approved for that age group earlier this week.
Some parents of Kane County teens were excited for their children to roll up their sleeves for the shot.
Ann Seckel was planning to get her 12- and 14- year olds vaccinated, even though no one was high risk in her family. She said she is concerned about potential long-term effects if one of her children got COVID-19.
“Evidence is showing [COVID-19] can affect the vascular system,” she said. “We also want to help prevent the spread of COVID to more vulnerable populations, which is one reason they also get a flu shot and several of the other childhood vaccines. [My kids] are excited and want to move forward after the pandemic.”
Seckel, who is vaccinated, said she has friends whose children participated in the clinical trials, which has been “reassuring.”
“If we want to reach some level of herd immunity, as many people as possible need to be vaccinated,” she said. “It’s a personal decision, but I hope parents are really critically evaluating the sources that are influencing their decisions.”
Geneva resident Annie Jaros said she plans to get her 15-year-old daughter vaccinated so she can “enjoy her summer, hang out with friends and go out.”
“She asked to be vaccinated the day the FDA gave approval,” Jaros said. “There was no hesitation. These vaccines are safer than COVID and the possible long-term effects of COVID.”
Sarah Lonsway, a registered nurse and vaccine clinic coordinator at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva, said she will get her 15-year-old son vaccinated because it will give her, and her son, peace of mind.
“Whenever he has a random cough, sore throat or feeling achy, my first thought always goes to the possibility of COVID,” she said. “For all children, vaccinating will improve their mental and physical health by attending school, sports and social gatherings to get them back to normal, which they all need right now.”
Lonsway said that all children should be vaccinated for many other reasons, including the fact that they can often be asymptomatic carriers who can unknowingly infect an unvaccinated adult.
“Children usually have milder illness than adults, but some can become very sick or have long-lasting complications, especially those with a history of asthma, chronic lung disease, autoimmune disorders and cancer. Each child or adult infected with the coronavirus provides a chance for it to mutate and create more variants, some that could be more dangerous or resistant to the available vaccine and therapies,” she explained.
While working at Delnor’s vaccine clinic, Lonsway said she often spends time with parents discussing the benefits of all childhood vaccines, by providing credible information to ease their worries.
“No vaccine has been linked to any credible long-term side effects in clinic studies, but I understand the concerns of ‘what if’ for any vaccine that is new,” she said. “I understand and empathize with parents who are on the fence about making the decision to vaccinate. I take the time to address their concerns and fears, and provide credible facts to help answer their questions so they can make an informed decision and feel comfortable about it. It is ultimately their choice, and one that I can respect as they feel they are doing what is best for their child.”
Dr. Srisudha Reddy-Gundala, a pediatrician at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, is recommending that her eligible patients gets vaccinated, as children could develop severe symptoms if infected with COVID-19.
“The Pfizer vaccine for kids is very safe and proven to be effective,” she said. “Experts estimate that to reach herd immunity, or something close to it, roughly 70 to 90% of Americans need to be vaccinated. U.S. census data shows kids under 18 make up roughly 22% of the U.S. population. Children need to be vaccinated for COVID not just to protect them, but to prevent further spread and mutation of the virus.”
In an informal Shaw Media poll of parents asking if they plan to vaccinate their child, almost 40% said they definitely plan to vaccinate, while 30% responded that they will not get their child vaccinated, and would do whatever was necessary to make sure their child does not get the vaccine.