"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Many parents are struggling to seek out COVID vaccinations for his or her children

October 5, 2023 – COVID vaccines are in brief supply, however the challenges parents face to find shots for his or her children are making the search much more complex.

There are special doses for kids, and in lots of states, children cannot get the shot at pharmacies because pharmacists are usually not allowed to vaccinate them based on their age. Parents across the country have reported being unable to get their children vaccinated.

When the CDC released its Recommendation When the UK health authority announced in September that everybody aged 6 months and over should receive the brand new seasonal vaccine, it noted that 600 children had died from COVID-19 since May. It added that the chance of significant complications, akin to well-known heart disease, was much higher from contracting COVID-19 itself than from vaccination.

The seek for a vaccine is unfamiliar for a lot of parents. In earlier years of the pandemic, parents often had their children vaccinated against COVID-19 at pop-up clinics, many arrange at school parking lots. But this yr, those pop-up clinics are few and much between. This is the primary vaccination campaign without the funds of a declared federal public health emergency that led to May.

Five pharmacies within the Washington, DC, area recently told father Kevin Goldberg that the new edition of the COVID-19 vaccine for kids was not yet available to them.

“Two CVS stores near us and the Safeway we normally use told us they didn't have the children's doses – but they were already having enough trouble getting the vaccines into the arms of adults,” said Goldberg, who plans to vaccinate his 5-year-old son, Milo. “The local, private pharmacy we used said they would probably have the vaccines next week and suggested we check back over the weekend to see if we could get an appointment for him.”

Demand for COVID vaccines for kids has declined. About 32 million people ages 18 and younger have received at the very least one dose of a COVID vaccine, in keeping with the CDC COVID data trackerreports vaccinations through May. But the bivalent booster vaccine that got here out last fall was only given to three.5 million people under 18. Demand was particularly low amongst young children: Only 125,801 children aged 5 or younger received the bivalent booster vaccine.

“Oddly enough, I'm not worried yet,” said Goldberg, a lawyer. “Of course I'd like to give him the booster and the flu shot, but there's not much I can do right now.”

The lack of supplies is very frustrating since the CDC has strongly really helpful that children be vaccinated not only against COVID, but additionally against the flu.

The latest recommendations say that children ages 5 and older should receive at the very least one dose of the updated Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and kids ages 6 months to 4 years should receive two doses of either vaccine (with one in every of the doses being the updated vaccine).

This yr’s vaccinations differ barely from previous ones Covid vaccinationsNot only do they aim a particular mutation of the virus called XBB.1.5 and its associated variants, but also they are designed to supply protection against strains that caused a surge in cases and hospitalizations over the summer.

Yet greater than half of U.S. children ages 6 months to 17 years haven’t received a primary COVID-19 vaccination. accordingly of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, there are – often unfounded – concerns concerning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and the potential for long-term unwanted effects in children and adolescents – akin to myocarditis (Myocarditis) or multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-Ca severe immune response affecting multiple organs) – proceed to influence the selections of fogeys and caregivers whether or to not vaccinate their children.

Despite these concerns Investigations have shown that the chance of myocarditis is way higher in children who contract COVID than in children who’ve been vaccinated against it. It has also occurred predominantly in boys. MIS-C in children after a COVID vaccination can be extremely rare, and Research shows Those affected can have a certain genetic marker that makes them more susceptible.

Nevertheless, some parents remain skeptical.

“I've read the articles about heart problems, especially in boys, and that scares me, especially because my boys are super active,” says Sarah Weaver, a 40-year-old mother of three and highschool English teacher within the Detroit area.

“I am not a risk-taker. The risk of what could happen if they [COVID] seems to outweigh the risks [of vaccination] because the children were mostly not seriously affected.”

However, experts point out that COVID-19 is now one of the leading causes of death among children and that most deaths affect children without pre-existing medical conditions.

Is myocarditis still a problem?

Questions about vaccine safety began to mount at the beginning of the pandemic as researchers investigated reports linking the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines to myocarditis in young men and adolescents, mostly after the second dose.

Since then, however, CDC surveillance efforts have shown a significant decline in these cases.

“It appears that the chance was highest after the second dose of the primary series and we are usually not seeing that at the moment,” said Sean O'Leary, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Colorado and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases.

“Based on what we’ve seen during the last yr and a half, we don’t expect MIS-C to re-emerge with the brand new booster vaccine,” he said.

Shelby Kutty MD, PhD, director of the Division of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiology and professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, agreed.

“There were significantly more patients in the primary wave than recently, and overall the frequency has decreased,” he said.

But Kutty also had an important message for parents and caregivers.

“When we discuss myocarditis, we predict of a really scary infection of the center and the complications that include it. … But it isn’t a latest disease; it could actually occur in various viral infections,” he said.

“Most of the reported [vaccine-related] “Overall, cases were clinically mild and most of the people recovered inside 3 to five days with none further problems afterward. They only required supportive care – akin to anti-inflammatory drugs – and in almost 90% of cases, symptoms had disappeared by the point they left hospital,” he said.

In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 infection was and is associated with “a significantly increased risk of myocarditis, other cardiac arrhythmias, pericarditis [inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart]and an increased risk of hospitalization and death,” he said, also stressing that “the actual risk of infection increases by almost ten or eleven times if the person is not vaccinated.”

What is MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome)?

Another concern that arose firstly of the pandemic (and stays on the forefront of many parents’ minds) is MIS-C, a disease that Kawasaki disease and occurs mostly in young children and causes inflammation of the blood vessels. Initially, most MIS-C cases occurred 2 to 4 weeks after infection with COVID. Since then, cases have followed peaks in overall COVID-19 infection cases by a couple of month.

Robert W. Frenck Jr., MD, director of the Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio, explained that MIS-C is actually an excessive immune response.

“You get fever, conjunctivitis, enlarged lymph nodes, rash, etc. But if you compare the incidence and severity of MIS-C from the infection to the incidence and severity from the vaccine, it is about seven to eight times higher,” he said.

So far, rates for the 2 previous bivalent mRNA vaccines remain quite low, in keeping with CDC data.

Pediatric COVID at a look

The flood of data, headlines and numbers for the reason that starting of the pandemic has overwhelmed many parents and educators who, like Weaver, only want the perfect for his or her children.

“Parents want their children to stay healthy; they want their children to be safe,” Frenck said. “They weigh the evidence and say, 'I don't think it's important to vaccinate my child, it's a mild disease, the risk is low.' The problem is I have no way of knowing whether their child or this child or the other child is going to get a serious disease.”

Both he and O'Leary said that not only is COVID now among the many top 10 causes of death amongst children, but greater than half of COVID-related deaths have occurred in children with no underlying or pre-existing medical conditions, meaning they might have been prevented if the youngsters had been vaccinated.

“If you look at the list of causes of death in children, such as cancer, road traffic accidents and suicide, if there was a safe, easy and effective way to prevent them, we would jump at the chance, wouldn't we?” says O'Leary.

“That's what we have in this case with the vaccine. It's really tragic when children die or get really sick from something that could have been prevented.”