Parents weigh options as COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 11 years old approved by FDA, CDC

Arlington resident Anne-Marie Smith has three children and said she has no plans to vaccinate them against COVID-19. 

Her family has a history of complications arising from Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine and vaccines, Smith said. Even non COVID-19 vaccines that have gone through extensive testing and approval sometimes cause problems, she said. 

Children ages five to 11 can now receive the Pfizer vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation Nov. 2, which leaves some parents relieved and others indifferent. 

With the recommendation, the CDC expands the vaccine eligibility to about 28 million children in the U.S. and allows guardians to vaccinate their children in the age range, according to a CDC press release. The FDA also authorized the emergency use of vaccines for the same ages in late October. 

As of Nov. 4, nearly 6.5 million children have contracted COVID-19, according to preliminary data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. 

COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalization, deaths and long-term complications like extended symptoms, according to the CDC. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, can also result from the virus. 

Before the CDC’s announcement, Arlington resident Kim Martinez said she felt nervous in her prekindergarten classroom at Webb Elementary. Most of the students in her class are four or five years old. She was concerned for herself and her students’ families. 

A majority of her students come from multi-generational households and the last thing she wants to hear is that one of her students’ grandparents died, she said. 

“I wasn’t worried so much that they would be gravely ill, but I was worried they were going to get exposed and take it home to someone who would get hospitalized or worse,” Martinez said. 

Martinez thinks the recommendation is wonderful and will encourage her students’ parents to vaccinate their children, she said. If contracting COVID-19 is preventable, then people should get the vaccine for themselves and their community, she said. 

Since the virus can spread, then it’s going to continue to mutate children, Martinez said.

According to the CDC press release, vaccine distribution for children will be available nationwide starting Monday.

The Arlington Fire Department currently only provides vaccines for children aged 12 and older, said Jasiel Zapata, public information officer for the Arlington Fire Department. Any changes will be reported through the department’s media outlets. 

“We obviously feel privileged that the public does depend on us and that we’re able to rise to the occasion and meet the expectations and keeping them safe and healthy,” Zapata said. 

Martinez said she started the school year face-to-face in the classroom, but she transitioned into teaching online classes in September. She is vaccinated and plans on getting the booster. 

While virtual learning has been great for some students, others don’t do as well, so in-person would suit them better, she said.

“I really, really hope that the parents will see the value in the vaccine and trust science,” Martinez said. 

Smith said she weighed the risks and benefits of getting and not receiving the vaccine. The risk is her children could get sick from the vaccine, she said.

The benefit for her is that she’s not putting medication into her children that she’s not sure about, Smith said. 

Looking at the number of children that have gotten sick and the symptoms they contract, it’s not worth the risk if she gave them medicine that the FDA approved too quickly, she said. 

“I believe that God gives mothers an instinct for a reason, and that maternal instinct means a lot,” she said. 


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