Children Being Unvaccinated

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The Backstory 

Young children have been affected by the pandemic in more ways than one would imagine. Unlike other groups of people, children have not yet been given the option to be vaccinated against Covid-19 if they are too young. While the vaccine has eased the stress of anyone older than 12 years old, young elementary school children have not had that benefit. This leaves not only them but their parents stressed and anxious as schools begin to return to full time in person classes, different cities begin to open up again, and talk about administering the vaccine to even younger children begins to take place. There are many different emotions and opinions from parents when it comes to vaccinating children that are under 12 years old and it is important to understand why they feel this way and what can be done to put their stress at ease and keep them as informed as possible.

Facts about how children have dealt with Covid

There have been many questions surrounding children and Covid-19 and what differs between their experiences with the disease and adult experiences. Because of their young age and studies showing that, “Children, particularly under 10 years of age, are less likely to be the vector for SARS-CoV-2 infection within household settings.” While there is less of a chance of them contracting and spreading the disease, that does not mean that they are immune to Covid-19. It is important to understand that children are still affected by this pandemic and parents should still be cautious when it comes to keeping their children safe. Masking and social distancing has been proven to be one of the best ways to keep individuals safe and it is no different when it comes to children. To ensure their safety children should follow similar protocols as adults since it has been proven that masking is safe for them.

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Parents Opinions on Getting their Children Vaccinated 

As the vaccine continues to be studied and administered to people around the world, there has been talk about trying to get it approved to be given to even younger children. Parents have had different opinions on this topic and all of their feelings lead towards wanting to keep their children safe. Because the vaccine is so new and trials for it are still being conducted,  some groups of parents are hesitant to allow their children to be vaccinated against Covid-19. A study done on parents' opinions on vaccines during the pandemic shows that the leading cause of hesitancy is a “Lack of scientific studies about the COVID-19 vaccine and children” which made up 84.8% of the responses from the survey the study conducted. The main reason parents do wish to vaccinate their children is because they feel as though “Vaccination is needed to control the Covid-19 Pandemic” which 75.5% of parents responded with. It's important to understand why parents feel cautious about the vaccine since information about younger children receiving it is still being released every day as we continue living through the pandemic. 

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A New York Times article focused on parents' feelings about their children being vaccinated and found that the percentage of parents that were not ready to vaccinate their children rose as the age of their children decreased. What this tells us is that parents with even younger children, specifically 5 years old and below, feel especially nervous about possibly vaccinating their children. This article decided to speak to parents directly to find out exactly why they felt a certain way about the vaccine. A hopeful mother told the New York Times “I was like ‘Oh, my gosh this is exciting” when discussing the possibility of her young children being able to be vaccinated. On the other hand, another mother stated, “We are absolutely not ready” when the topic of vaccination was brought up. It is important to understand that many parents are fearful for the safety of their young children with a vaccine that is fairly new. The goal should be to have them be as informed as possible and stay up to date with the news on the vaccine that is being updated daily. Many parents are hoping to vaccinate their children but are willing to wait until more information is available. The article mentions, “She (a mother they interviewed) was eager for federal officials to thoroughly review the data before she makes her decision.” The article goes on to discuss the issues of misinformation and the damage it could cause when parents are basing their decisions on incorrect information regarding vaccines. 

Overall, what seems to be the safest thing to do for now is to stay informed and understand how the vaccine could possibly affect your child since every situation is different. 

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Schools Opening Again 

Local school districts have been implementing special guidelines in order to ensure the safety of their young students that are unable to get vaccinated but are still being asked to return to the classroom full time. The Goleta Unified School District (GUSD) has made sure to create a plan to keep both their students and their staff safe. A Daily Nexus article that focused on GUSD discussed the plans and mentioned that the schools plan, “includes guidance on learning options, health screenings, school meetings, contact tracing and layers of safety in the classroom.” While many schools across the country are finally able to open up again, it is important that they are taking necessary precautions, especially because their younger students are still unvaccinated. Their plan is one to especially pay attention to because it includes several steps and methods to ensure safety that when used in conjunction with masking and social distancing will hopefully lower the risk of infection.

Wearing Masks in Classrooms 

One of the main struggles when it comes to children attending school during the ongoing pandemic is them adhering to masking guidelines throughout the day. As expected, it has been more difficult for younger children to properly wear their mask as it can be more overwhelming and uncomfortable for them. A study on this issue found that although we have been in this pandemic for a while there are still issues when it comes to masking in schools which is understandable when it comes to young children who are more likely to have sensory issues. This study found some possible solutions that could ease the burden of masking on children such as schools having masks specifically made for children’s faces and creating nonverbal cues for class interruptions such as going to the bathroom. Of course each classroom is different and it is important to acknowledge this and take it into consideration when creating masking guidelines. The children’s comfort and safety should always be a top priority when creating these guidelines. 

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source: Daily Nexus

Older Children Already Being Vaccinated 

As different vaccines get approved for children 12 years old and older can aid us when making decisions about younger children and guide us towards what the next steps will be. A New York Times article tackles the frequently asked questions regarding minors and the vaccine and makes sure to provide important information such as the side effects and dosage given. Knowing this information can help parents be more informed about the vaccine and feel more comfortable with the idea of vaccinating their children. Medical professionals want to ease the stress parents have and keep them informed when it comes to the vaccines. The article made sure to point out the fact that they were getting their information from trusted sources such as medical professionals and pediatricians. The article states, “Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and professor at Brown University in Providence, R.I., said she had "zero safety concerns" about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, noting that hundreds of millions of people worldwide had received it. Her 12-year-old daughter will get vaccinated, and her 9-year-old son will be immunized when he's eligible, she said.”

Moving Forward with Children and the Vaccine 

The pandemic is an ongoing situation that changes day by day. In order to make informed and safe decisions both parents and their children should consult doctors and medical professionals in order to ensure their well being during these difficult times. While it is important to keep up with the news about the vaccine that seems to change daily, it is also important for parents to assess their children’s personal and unique needs when it comes to the disease. The best thing to do at the moment is follow guidelines that are being implemented because as we have seen, they are being created with great care and consideration for people, and especially children’s, safety.  

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