MedWatch Today: Why Children Ages 5 and Older Need to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Med Watch Today

A lot has changed since March 2020 when the first case of the Coronavirus was detected in Fresno County. The vaccine against COVID-19 is now available for everyone, even children as young as five years old can be protected against this deadly virus.

We met one local family who shares why it was so important everyone in the family get the shot – including their youngest member, a seven-year-old, who was eager to roll up his sleeve.

The Santiago Family is officially vaccinated against COVID-19. It was a long time coming, said mom Monica. She and her husband German got the vaccine in early 2021, and anxiously awaited its approval for children.

“It was a no brainer. They’re vaccinated with other vaccines… And if we have to have boosters, then we do it, but at least we have to follow the science and do it,” said Monica.

Monica suffers from chronic asthma and wanted to ensure her family was safe from getting or spreading COVID-19. Her daughter Jayden, who is 13, was eligible to receive the vaccine in July.

Monica stated, “She was fine. Me and my husband got reactions, she didn’t have one, like at all.”

Dr. Christian Faulkenberry-Miranda is the Associate Residency Program Director for UCSF Fresno’s Department of Pediatrics. She said, “We know that the vaccine is about 90-percent effective. And no one who was vaccinated in the studies ever ended up with serious covid infection so we definitely know that this vaccine works.

Dr. Faulkenberry-Miranda said though the death rate in children who have COVID-19 is significantly less than adults, it’s still a virus that can be debilitating to their young bodies.

“Kids are getting exposed and being out, so it affects their learning and being able to attend classes. They also are getting something called “long haul covid”, which is affecting somewhere around 7-8 percent of our kids. They might have a very minor COVID infection, but they have symptoms that are lasting for months after their infection,” said Dr. Faulkenberry-Miranda. She continued, “They may have unexplained fevers, they’ve have joint pains, many of them are unable to return to their previous activity levels.”

That’s why in October, when the FDA moved forward with an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to children between five and 11 years old, Monica knew it was her son Marcus’ turn.

“We explained to him, sissy got a shot, and we all got a shot, and this is gonna protect us, and it was the best thing, decision we could have probably done with all of us,” Monica commented.

We spoke to Marcus just hours after he received his first dose. The young boy said, “It didn’t really hurt that much… because if it would have hurt, then I would’ve started crying, but I didn’t, so it didn’t hurt at all.”

Marcus said he feels extra safe to be at school now, a place he missed when he was forced to stay home during the pandemic.

“Good because like I get to see my friends, and I get to learn more and everything thing, homeschool learning about numbers, but now on this type of school we’re learning about math,” said Marcus.

Monica said she’s relieved her entire family is vaccinated against COVID-19, especially her children.

Dr. Faulkenberry-Miranda said, “If we want them to be in school and get back to their normal lives, this really is the route to go, this vaccine is safe.”

The pediatrician urges all parents to have their children five years and older get the vaccine as soon as possible.

“Please, please get your kids vaccinated if they’re eligible. COVID is a very serious illness, even in kids, and kids are at risk,” ended Dr. Faulkenberry-Miranda.

For more information about where you can get your COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

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