PUYALLUP, Wash. - Starting Thursday, many doctor’s offices and pharmacies across Washington have started to vaccinate the new age group allowed to get COVID shots.
Although many families with 5 to 11 year-olds are eager to get the shot, many parents are holding back their children.
According to a recent survey of more than 1,500 parents in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, only 27% said ‘yes’ to the vaccine for young kids. 33% said they will wait and see, and another 30% said ‘no’ to the shot.
Most who are hesitant said they felt they didn’t know enough about long-term health effects.
Some parents are also worried about myocarditis, a potential rare side effect from the vaccine that could inflame the heart wall.
Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health-Seattle & King County says your child has a higher chance of getting myocarditis if they contract COVID-19 rather than from the vaccine itself. Duchin is encouraging parents to talk to their pediatrician.
With more data coming out, doctors hope it will help sway more hesitant parents.
The poll comes as the debate ramps up about whether or not state leaders will mandate the vaccine for kids.
Dennis Folk, a Pierce County dad, says he’s fought off COVID and it was serious.
"It can hit people, especially as you get older, it can hit them incredibly hard it‘s no joke," Folk said.
Although Folk is not making light of COVID, he is not on board with vaccinating his 8 and 9-year-old kids because the chances of young children dying from the virus is low.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8,300 kids between 5 to 11 years have been hospitalized with COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. 94 kids in that age group have died.
"People might say that’s a relatively small number compared to the number of adults, and this is true, but again people should not be dying at that age," Duchin said.
Health leaders are pushing and assuring parents that the Pfizer vaccine is safe, that the benefits outweigh the risks.
But the parents who are eager to get the shots are not the ones needing convincing.
"This disease is a very significant one for children," Duchin said.
Doctors say not only is the vaccine important for personal protection, but vaccinating kids is an important way to decrease the spread of the virus in the community.
"I think the vaccine is beneficial for the vast majority of the population where I am coming from is the standpoint of mandating, especially for school age children, I think is way out of bounds," Folk said.
But the school board in the largest district in Washington state is already broaching the topic of asking the Board of Health to add the COVID-19 shot to the state’s list of required immunizations. The Seattle School Board postponed any action for now but it does set the stage of what may be coming for parents.
FOX 13 News asked Folk what he would do if they mandated shots for kids.
"Honestly, we don’t know. That’s a great question. I really hope we don’t have to cross that bridge," Folk said.
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