Forums address adolescent COVID vaccine concerns

The Eagle-Tribune
Published: 5/27/2021 7:07:44 PM

A series of virtual town halls aims to answer families’ questions about adolescents getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has hosted a dozen family forums since last Thursday.

“We really wanted to plan some outreach events and provide an opportunity for families to hear the information, but also really to have a conversation with local pediatricians and family physicians,” said AAPVT Executive Director Stephanie Winters.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use by children as young as 12. Since then, the state has held clinics in communities around the state in an effort to get young people vaccinated.

“The engagement from families has just been really impressive,” she said. “People are really looking for information and really engaged in the process.”

Winters said questions have focused on the length of study of the vaccines and potential complications with children with special health needs. She added that parents and guardians are also asking about misinformation they might be encountering.

However, she said, people who might be trying to spread that misinformation haven’t been showing up at the forums themselves.

“The families and people who have joined us are just really trying to get information and have really good and sincere questions,” she said.

Dr. Rebecca Bell, president of AAPVT, unpacked some of the science behind the vaccines and address how they got approved for human use so quickly.

“If you had told me a year ago that we would have a number of safe and effective vaccines ... I don’t know if I would have believed it,” she said. “It’s amazing how effective these vaccines are.”

Bell acknowledged that people are accustomed to vaccines taking longer to get approved but explained that when COVID-19 hit last year, beating it became the “top priority,” leading to increased funding and collaboration.

She went on to explain the science behind mRNA, or Messenger RNA, molecules — used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — which instruct the body about how to make proteins to help fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

While Rubin acknowledged that children who contract COVID-19 may not get as sick as adults, they can get still get sick. Rubin noted that, to date, more than 300 children have died from COVID-19 nationally.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.

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