By Thomas T. Siler, Jr., MD The FDA is meeting on October 26th to give advice to parents on vaccination for children ages 5-12 and the Biden administration is poised to roll out vaccines for this age group for COVID-19. Is this a good idea and what information do parents need to make this decision for their kids?
I am not a pediatrician — I am a recently retired Internal Medicine doctor. I am not an anti-vaxxer. I have taken all the vaccines that have gone through the usual approval protocol for my age group. I have prescribed vaccines for adult patients for 35 years. I am a parent and have thought about the vaccination of children even though my children are grown and making their own decisions now. If I were making this decision, there are several questions that I would ask before agreeing to a COVID-19 vaccination for my child.
What is the risk of my child getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19?
COVID-19 mortality is not the same for all ages and the average age of someone dying from COVID-19 is 79 years old. For ages 0-19, the survival rate is 99.9973%. This means that for age 0-19 there will be one death for every 37,000 infections. Sweden, population 10 million, chose not to use masks, had no lockdowns, and did not close schools and had a low rate of infection for children and no deaths. A widely circulated article in the NY Times last month claimed falsely that 900,000 children have been hospitalized since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual number was 63,000, and even this number comes into question as the FDA/CDC have admitted we have a faulty PCR test for COVID-19 that has many false positives. Dr. Marty Makary and FAIRHealth analyzed health insurance claims and found that all the deaths of children at the time (about 335) were children who had chronic medical conditions and no healthy children had died from COVID-19. A rare post COVID-19 illness of excessive inflammation including myocarditis called MIS-C has affected 5,000 mostly healthy children with a mortality rate of less than 1% (46 children died)
Will my child spread the virus to teachers/me/grandma/grandpa?
An article by Benjamin Lee and William V. Raszka in Pediatrics found that in the first six months of the pandemic children were not the cause of most spread of COVID-19. The study cited above about Sweden also found that keeping the schools open did not lead to more illness in teachers during the pandemic. It seems that children spread COVID-19 less than adults.
How long does the vaccine last? Will my child need boosters?
Data coming in from England and Israel, countries with very high adult vaccination rates, shows the vaccine efficacy is wearing off over six months. It also appears the initial mRNA vaccines worked well against the original alpha strain, but is not working very well on the Delta strain, which is dominant now. Israel has already embarked on an aggressive 3rd booster for adults.
It is likely that this schedule will be the same for children.
Is the vaccine safe to take? What are the short-term side effects I might expect?
As a parent you must get all information about side effects in order to give informed consent for your child’s medical treatment. The best window into possible side effects is the VAERS system, which is a self-reporting system for vaccine side effects. Please go to this database and read about the side effects that adults have recorded as possibly being related to the vaccine. This information is not being reported by the media/FDA/CDC/our government and is essential to making a good decision for your child. For adults so far there have been 16,000 deaths and 700,000 adverse events recorded after the vaccine. These adverse events include blood clots, neurologic injury, and menstrual irregularities. The VAERS system is widely believed to underreport these adverse events by a factor of at least 10. For age 12-17 there have been 22 deaths and 21,000 adverse events reported. In the late teens and twenties, 111 deaths have occurred related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) is a known side effect of the vaccines and can permanently damage the heart. One recent study showed teenage boys were four times more likely to be diagnosed with myocarditis than be hospitalized with COVID-19. Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are not giving Moderna vaccination in young adults due to concerns about myocarditis. Iceland has stopped using Moderna vaccine in all adults due to similar concerns.
What are the long-term side effects of the vaccine for my child that I could expect?
This is one of the main problems — we don’t know. mRNA vaccine have never been used on a human population before for any length of time. They are a brand-new technology made by Operation WarpSpeed to get out the vaccines quickly. The first use was last December so there has been only ten months of actual use. Vaccines approved in the usual fashion take 5-7 years of study to make sure they have long-term safety. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are used under emergency authorization only. The FDA did approve a vaccine for COVID-19 about two months ago called Comirnaty. Strangely, this vaccine is not available in the U.S., as this approved vaccine would have legal liability. As a parent you also need to be aware that if your child does have a reaction to one of these experimental vaccines, there will be no legal recourse. Our government has protected the pharmaceutical companies from any legal liability from these experimental vaccines under the PREP act.
In my opinion, the government, mainstream media, and pharmaceutical companies have overestimated the danger of COVID-19 infection in children inducing fear and underreported the risks of the vaccines. I would not give these new mRNA vaccines to my healthy child because:
1) The risk of serious health problems from COVID-19 infection in healthy children is very low.
2) If your child is chronically ill, obese, diabetic, immuno-compromised consider using the vaccine.
3) There can be serious short term side effects in children from the vaccine. Several countries have stopped using some of these vaccines in children.
4) The vaccines are less effective against the now dominant Delta strain.
5) The vaccine effect wears off in months and my child will likely have boosters once or twice a year increasing the risk of side effects.
6) The long-term side effects are not known and with many years of life left, children may have long term problems not even known now.
A COVID vaccination involves a very different decision than ‘does my child need a tetanus shot or an MMR to go to school.’ Please be assertive and get a second and third opinion and ask your provider questions.