Why Parents Are Right to Question Vaccinating Their Children Against COVID-19

Six vials of COVID-19 vaccine from different manufacturers.

Pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Moderna have come up with Covid vaccines that make use of genetic codes derived from SARS-CoV-2. (Image: Pojoslaw via Dreamstime)

The Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011-2020 (GVAP) was developed to realize the ambitions of the Decade of Vaccines — that all individuals and communities enjoy lives free from vaccine-preventable illnesses. 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to cause illness, death, and economic havoc worldwide, vaccines were developed, and a mass vaccination program started in December 2020. 

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Once vaccines are demonstrated to be safe, they must be authorized by national regulators, manufactured to exacting standards, and distributed. Then, finally, officials in individual countries decide whether to approve the vaccines for national use. While trials have shown several COVID-19 vaccines to have high levels of efficacy, it has been said that, like all other vaccines, those for COVID-19 cannot be 100 percent effective all of the time. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the impact of the COVID-19 vaccines on the pandemic depends on several factors, including: 

  • Effectiveness of the vaccines 
  • How quickly vaccines are approved 
  • How fast they can be manufactured 
  • The supply chain to get them delivered 
  • The possible development of other variants 
  • How many people get vaccinated 

The vaccines are designed to teach the body’s immune system to recognize and safely block the virus that ultimately causes COVID-19. 

A man swabs a woman's arm in preparation for administering a shot.
The vaccines are designed to teach the body’s immune system to recognize and safely block the virus that causes COVID-19. (Image: Marysmn via Dreamstime)

To date, there are several types of potential vaccines for COVID-19 in development, including: 

  1. Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines that use a form of the virus that has been inactivated or weakened, so it doesn’t cause disease, but still generates an immune response. 
  2. Protein-based vaccines that use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the COVID-19 virus to generate an immune response. 
  3. Viral vector vaccines that use a safe virus that cannot cause disease, but serve as a platform to produce coronavirus proteins to generate an immune response.
  4. RNA and DNA vaccines, an approach that uses genetically engineered RNA and DNA to generate a protein that safely prompts an immune response. 

While the current supply of vaccines is limited, worldwide efforts are still being made to prioritize vaccinating those most at risk, whether that may be due to age, health, or other factors.  

Since the vaccines have been determined to be (mostly) safe for adults, they are being studied in children. Having received both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this year, why does the thought of my children receiving the vaccine make me ask questions? 

Soon after my first dose, the news was being shared in the mainstream and online about the AstraZeneca vaccine causing blood clots, especially within specific age groups. Already being anxious, I had to work hard to separate the facts of the matter from the fiction.  

Conspiracy theories break down trust in COVID-19 vaccines

Unfortunately, endless conspiracies continue to arise surrounding COVID-19 and the vaccines, which causes breakdowns in trust. And with the advice from officials continuously changing, further confusion is generated. 

How can we possibly know the right from the wrong? Regardless of how much research we conduct, we are still met with many pros and cons, which we work to break down as factually as possible. Despite my concerns, I still chose to receive my second dose.  

At the time of writing this article, I have not suffered from any noticeable side effects from the vaccine. However, that still doesn’t stop me from wondering if I have made a mistake, which I may learn to regret further in life, predicted by some theories I have read. 

For the most part, most of us can continue to live a life based on the ‘what-ifs?’ when it comes to ourselves. However, when it comes to those we love, we tend to seek further clarity, as we are now not only responsible for our outcomes based on our own decisions. This is where to factor in whether parents choose to vaccinate their children or not. 

Young child looking sad.
The fact that our children may suffer based on a decision we make for them motivates parents to fully understand the risks and benefits of the vaccines. (Image: Jmpaget via Dreamstime)

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is suitable for people aged 12 years old and above. Children aged between 12 and 15, who are at higher risk of COVID-19, may be offered the vaccine alongside other high-priority groups. Most children are at low risk of serious disease, and vaccinating them is said to be primarily about reducing transmission, which is influenced by public health measures that we now know include: 

  • physically distancing from others. 
  • cleaning hands frequently. 
  • sneezing and coughing into an elbow if tissue or cloth isn’t readily available. 
  • wearing a mask if age-appropriate and not exempt due to other health conditions. 
  • avoiding over-crowded and poorly ventilated areas. 

The vaccine trials for children are currently ongoing. Despite the facts outlined, I am still entirely on the fence about what I deem is the “right” thing to do when my children fall into the necessary age bracket for the vaccine program. My humble opinion is that the decision should solely lay with the parents of each child.

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