SEATTLE, Wash - With most kids back to school, it’s a relief for many parents for social and academic reasons.
"The kids are all back in school and that’s all great and hopefully that will continue," parent Dale Levitzke said.
But parents are also keeping a close eye on the spike in COVID cases among kids.
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Locally, classrooms have gone into quarantine in parts of Washington because of COVID cases.
As of Tuesday nationwide the number of pediatric COVID cases topped more than 240,000 weekly, reflecting a 240% spike since late July.
Levitzke, a dad of two, is relieved that his 14 year-old daughter is vaccinated.
"The benefits of the vaccine greatly outweigh the risks versus what we are seeing with coronavirus," Levitzke said.
But Levitzke didn’t make up his mind on the vaccines based on fear but instead on facts.
"Folks need to do their own research but the technology we’ve been using in the mRNA is actually a combination of technology in human health for a long time," Levitzke said.
Levitzke has been following the data carefully, from the clinical trials to the hundreds of millions of vaccines that have already been administered.
"We are working with very well vetted vaccines that’s been very carefully crafted over 200 years of vaccine development" Levitzke said.
But many parents are still undecided or opposed.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics only 39% of 12–15 year-olds are fully vaccinated nationwide.
In Washington state that number is 43%.
"The vaccine is safe to use in children especially for children 12 and up," Dr. Drew Sledd with Kaiser Permanente said.
Dr. Sledd says by far the biggest concern they are hearing from parents is not about short term side effects but instead long term uncertainty.
"Haven’t necessarily been focusing on the immediate side effects, they’ve been spending a lot of time talking about the long term potential health effect," Dr. Sledd said.
Dr. Sledd says it is not surprising that some would be hesitant, he says that is common when there is a new drug or treatment.
But doctors say the data and science shows the vaccines are safe.
"We continue to urge them to move forward with that vaccination it prevents the most serious types of infections," Dr. Sledd said.
With kids back in school, doctors say the vaccine is the best societal shield against the deadly virus. Kids under 12 are not approved for the vaccine yet. Doctors say the more people around them vaccinated will lessen the spread.
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