Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society and Mass. Chapter of the AAP on vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds, making major push to educate public

Massachusetts Medical Society and Mass. Chapter of the AAP on vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds, making major push to educate public

As pediatricians, our advice is simple – vaccinate your children against COVID-19.

The lower-dose vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 is safe and provides an important level of protection for your child. The minimal risk of side effects is greatly outweighed by the proven efficacy of the vaccine.

While it is important to remember that data continue to show that children, by and large, experience less severe impact than adults when infected with COVID-19, it is possible for children to suffer severe illness and require hospitalization. The surest way to protect children against the very contagious Delta variant is with vaccination.

The pandemic has had a terrible impact on children. The mental health crisis among our youth continues to worsen with pediatric primary care providers’ offices, pediatric hospitals, and emergency departments filled with children presenting with mental health concerns. Obesity has also risen at a faster rate than we had previously seen, a foreboding hint about the tenuous long-term health of this generation of children. Health and educational disparities based on race and economic status have widened over the past year and a half, and the effects of a lack of in-person learning have been well documented. We hope that nearly universal immunization will restore normalcy for children to participate in school and sports and thrive.

Most families with whom we speak are ready to get their young children vaccinated. There are some, however, who are still reticent, due to either deeply held beliefs or misperceptions. A larger portion of the hesitant, though, simply want reassurance from a trusted health care provider that the vaccine is both safe and effective. They desire to gain clarity on a subject that is jumbled and twisted because of confusing soundbites and misleading and harmful misinformation they see online.

We call on state leaders to utilize every available resource and communications tool in a coordinated campaign to present a clear message – the vaccine is safe and effective for children.

We are at the point in this pandemic where every individual has a choice - they can either get a vaccine or at some point become infected with the virus itself.

Regardless of your child’s age and medical history and even if you or your child are at a very low risk for severe disease from infection, the risk of severe side effects from vaccination is still far lower than the risk of complications from the virus itself. We choose vaccination for ourselves, our children, and grandchildren and encourage all to do the same.

-Carole E. Allen, MD, MBA, FAAP, Pediatrician and President, Massachusetts Medical Society
-Lloyd Fisher, MD, FAAP, President, Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

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