A ‘shocking’ post about children and COVID shots arouses hesitation, say paediatricians

FILE - In this file from June 6, 2021, a young man receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the central Israeli city of Rishon LeZion.  Drugs Pfizer and BioNTech say they have requested that their coronavirus vaccine be approved for children aged 5 to 11 across the EU.  If approved, it will be the first opportunity for young children in Europe to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  (AP Photo / Sebastian Scheiner)

A young person receives a PfizerCOVID-19 shot in Rishon LeZion, Israel, in June. (Associated Press)

To the editor: Your cover story “It’s harder to justify COVID vaccine for children if the end of the pandemic is close” was shocking.

COVID-19 has so far killed close to 700 children in the US By comparison, influenza deaths in children range from 100-200 per year. COVID-19 in children may also have long-term interventions; cause mutlis system inflammatory syndrome, which has hospitalized hundreds; cause countless lost school days; and promotes the spread of the disease to society.

The logic of the play is deeply flawed. It considered whether, since the pandemic is on the decline – only for the moment as it seems to be declining, as long as we continue to fail to control it by vaccinating, masking and giving mandates – whether we should vaccinate children.

Really? After such thinking, we should also stop immunizing children against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and a host of other dangerous infectious diseases. But if we did, these diseases would definitely rise back. We have already seen it happen in the pockets of unvaccinated communities.

The article mentions myocarditis in young men as a potential reason for not vaccinating children, without also mentioning that this inflammation is generally mild, of short duration and easily treated with ibuprofen and rest.

The piece will only help increase the hesitation and resistance to the vaccine. You have done a disservice to all who work hard every day to fight this pandemic.

Steve Tarzynski, MD, Santa Monica

The author is a pediatrician.

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To the editor: It is completely irresponsible to suggest that children aged 5-11 do not necessarily need a COVID-19 vaccine.

Children can get COVID-19 infections. Children can get quite sick, many have and will continue to be hospitalized, and some have and will die. But death is not the only measure.

In my pediatric ear, nose and throat practice, I see patients with “long COVID” quite regularly. I can not tell them or their families whether these life-changing, though not life-threatening symptoms will ever subside.

The risk of a COVID-19 infection far outweighs the risk of being vaccinated, both for children and adults. The vaccine is new, yes, but so is the pandemic. These vaccines are quickly removed from the body within a few days, so it is absurd to equate the vaccine’s risk of long-term side effects with the long-term aspects of the disease.

Children deserve to be protected as much as adults.

Nina Shapiro, MD, Los Angeles

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To the editor: In the same newspaper, you ran two seemingly conflicting articles that were not in the Opinion Section.

On the front page, a news analysis said, “COVID-19 shots for children are harder to justify as the end of the pandemic appears to be nearer.” In the California section, there was an article that said shots help even though the risk of COVID-19 for children is low. This article noted: “The disease has still killed some children and they can spread it to vulnerable groups.”

No wonder some people are still unsure about the vaccines.

Susan Sherman, Covina

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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