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Drew: Alabama Ranks Last with Children and Teen COVID Vaccine Rates

By Samuetta Hill Drew

Unfortunately, I was not surprised to learn this week that Alabama again ranked at the bottom of the number of recipients receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens.  It was merely reminiscent of a similar ranking Alabamians fell into regarding adult vaccinations. So why would anyone be surprised, disappointed maybe, but definitely not surprised.

Disappointed because we are in the midst of the holiday season when many Alabamians are planning Christmas gatherings which include young (under 5) as well as older family members and friends. Unvaccinated children and teens leave family and friends vulnerable especially those siblings who are not eligible for vaccination. Vulnerable also are those family members and friends who may be at increased risk of getting very sick if they are infected.

This discussion prompts additional Q & A about children and teens vaccinations which may help you as a parent or legal guardian with your decision. The information in this article will also be derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or CHOC (Children Health or Orange County), ranked as one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals for 2020-2021.

How does covid-19 affect children?

A: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported that since the beginning of the pandemic, about 1.9 million children ages 5-11 years have been infected with COVID-19 – which is about 9 percent of all U.S. cases. Of children infected, more than 8,300 children have been hospitalized and 94 have died, according to federal data.  The death toll within this past year puts COVID-19 in the top 10 causes of death for children ages 5-11 years.

Most children who are infected with COVID-19 virus only experience mild symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue, and cough.  However, some children have experienced severe illness and required hospitalization, or have experienced “long-haul “or reoccurring symptoms of COVID-19 in the weeks or even months after becoming infected – even if their initial illness was mild. Children with underlying health conditions may be at an increased risk for developing complications and severe illness.

Will the covid-19 vaccine affect my child’s fertility?

A: Definitely not, because it is an mRNA vaccine, the vaccine does not get incorporated into or change the DNA of the body’s cells in any way.  There is no reason to worry that the vaccine will affect fertility or future offspring.

Does the covid-19 vaccine cause myocarditis?

A: Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, appears to be a very rare side effect of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. In Pfizer’s clinical trial for children ages 5-11 years, there were no cases of myocarditis – however, the company acknowledged that the clinical trials may not have been large enough to pick up such a rare event. The analysis of the clinical trial data suggest that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risks.

The holiday season is usually a social one with many interactions among people outside your immediate household, so make sure you continue to Keep an Eye on Safety for your entire family regardless of age. The medical and scientific communities believe the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to stay safe and reverse the course of this pandemic.