Does a vaccine mandate make sense for kids?

Dr. Jennifer Loethen, a St. Louis area Pediatrician, provided the following guidance to Speak for Students Co-Founder Ryan Cunningham when he asked her thoughts on kids receiving the COVID-19 Vaccination.

Is the Covid 19 vaccine right for your child?

Here is some information you need to make an informed choice.

1. Does my child need this vaccine? How dangerous is Covid 19 for children?

Overall, children have a very low risk of serious disease or death from Covid 19. From 1/04/2020 to 10/30/2021 (about 22 months since the beginning of Covid) the CDC has reported 680 deaths from Covid 19 in children ages 0-18 out of 73 million children in the US.  The death rate for children is still reported as 30 per 100,000 or 0.03%.  This means that 99.97% of children will survive the Covid 19 virus.  Compare the death rate from Covid 19 to the death rate from motor vehicle accidents.  According to a CDC report from 2019 there were 1,110 deaths from unintentional motor vehicle accidents in children from <1 to 14 years of age.  If we increase the age up to 24 years (driving teens have increased motor vehicle accidents), deaths from unintentional motor vehicle accidents increase to 6,977.  Therefore, your child has more of a risk of dying from a motor vehicle accident than from dying of Covid 19.  Hospitalization rates for children with Covid vary from 0.5% to 2%.  The last report from the CDC on 11/06/2021 revealed that the 7 day average hospitalization rate for children in the United States was 136; this is well under 1% of the population of children in the United States.  The hospitalization rate has been trending downward; currently decreased 8.2% from the prior week.  The weekly deaths per 100,000 for children 0-17 years reported on 11/06/2021 was 0.01.  This is equivalent to 0.00001% of the 73 million children in the United States.

2. Facts about the Covid 19 vaccine in children.

Every parent needs to understand that the Pfizer Covid 19 vaccine is only approved for emergency use authorization, or EUA, for all children from the ages of 5 to 15.  The clinical trials only include individuals who have never tested positive for Covid 19.  If your child has had Covid 19, the results of the clinical trials do not apply to your child.  Also, for the recent EUA approval for children ages 5-12 the phase I and phase II studies only looked at about a total of 3,000 children.  In the United States, there are about 24 million children in that age bracket.  So only about 0.01% of that age group was studied.  The children in the clinical trial were only followed up to 2 months to evaluate safety after the second dose of the vaccine.  We have been vaccinating children ages 12-15 with EUA since May of 2021.  It is important to note that vaccine development typically takes 10 years or more.

Parents also need to be aware of the potential side effects associated with the vaccine.  The most common side effects reported through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) were:  injection site pain/redness/swelling, headaches, muscle pain, fever, chills and nausea.  Serious side effects include myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle or lining around the heart).  VAERS reported 1,784 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis among people 30 years old and younger; increased cases were in adolescent males.  Of these the CDC and FDA confirmed 1,005 cases.  The total number of deaths from the vaccine reported through VAERS from 12/14/2020 to 11/01/2021 was 9,367.

To be clear, the long-term efficacy and safety of this vaccine are unknown.  Every parent needs to understand that vaccinating their child right now is essentially enrolling them in a clinical trial.

3. What about natural immunity?

There are many articles that support that natural immunity (after recovery from a Covid 19 infection) is robust, and as good or even better than immunity from the vaccine.  Some references:  1) Necessity of Covid-19 vaccination in previously infected individuals; Cleveland Clinic Health System, Nabin Shrestha 2)  SARS-CoV-2 infection induces long-lived bone marrow plasma cells in humans done by Washington University, Nature 24 May 2021  3)  SARS-CoV-2 elicits robust adaptive immune responses regardless of disease severity, EBioMedicine 2021 Jun, S. Nielsen  4)  Protection of previous SAR-CoV-2 infections is similar to that of BNT 162b2 vaccine protection: a three-month nationwide experience from Israel Y Goldberg  5)  Having SARS-CoV-2 once confers much greater immunity than a vaccine—but vaccination remains vital, Science 26 AUG 2021 M. Wadman.  An article from the Brownstone Institute lists 106 scientific studies and evidence reports on natural immunity compared to Covid 19 vaccine induced immunity:  106 Research Studies Affirm Naturally Acquired Immunity to Covid 19:  Documented, Linked, and Quoted by P. Alexander October 17,2021.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, there is plenty of evidence to support a parent’s decision to not vaccinate their children, or to wait for further safety data before vaccinating their children.  Please consider all information available, and do not allow yourself as a parent to be pressured.  Make an informed decision.  The best decision is the one made by an informed parent for each individual child.  It is ok to vaccinate, to wait or to decide against the vaccine for your children.  There is no right or wrong, but only what a parent decides is best for their own child after considering all available information.

Based upon the information presented, at this time vaccine mandates in children do not make sense.


Jennifer Loethen MD, Pediatrician

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