Dear STA School Families,

Please see this message from Dr. Melissa Klitzman, STA parent and pediatrician.

Take care, stay safe, and many blessings!

Mrs. V

*****

Perspective about the COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 12–15

by Melissa D Klitzman

Mother of three and STA parishioner

To be up-front, I get my kids vaccinated—on time.  I still have the paper immunization cards for my two oldest from their first two days as newborns in the hospital.  I take those cards religiously to their pediatrician appointments.  By the time my surprise blessing came along in 2017, there was an app to keep track of her vaccines.  But again, I religiously keep her up to date with her immunizations.

Full disclosure again, I signed up for and was selected to be in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial in November 2020.  I felt it was my moral obligation.  As a Black woman, I know about the medicine’s failure to earn the BIPOC community’s trust through medical apartheid.  Think Henrietta Lacks.  Think atrocities of the father of OB/GYN on his slave Anarcha. Think the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.  Think sterilization of BIPOC communities, particularly the current sterilization of the Latinx community at our nation’s borders, and countless untold other medical horrors.  I joined the study to add validity to the vaccine for people of color, to protect myself, and as a public health effort.  I suspected, and it was confirmed, that I received the placebo.  I was unblinded from the AstraZeneca study and got the Moderna mRNA vaccine in January 2021.

But I understand the hesitation.  Now I’m being asked to give a new vaccine to my kids—the COVID-19 vaccine.

Last disclosure: I am a pediatrician, and I work at Riley Hospital for Children.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as of early May almost 4 million children have been diagnosed with COVID-19, accounting for 14% of all cases in the United States.  While most children have milder symptoms, there are children admitted to the hospital with more severe cases of COVID-19 and Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare but severe, life-threatening post-COVID-19 viral illness that presents two to four weeks after the initial contraction of the virus.  Even if your child is not admitted to the hospital, they could still spend days out of commission with COVID-19 symptoms and/or quarantined, which can take a toll on a family.  Children can also still spread the virus to others.  Plus, the more people who are unvaccinated, the more variants there will be.

On May 10th, the FDA approved the expansion of the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to ages 12–15.   According to the Pfizer Phase 3 data, 2,260 children (ages 12–15 years old) in the US were enrolled in the vaccine study.  Approximately half were given the vaccine, and half were given the placebo.  Out of the study participants given the placebo, there were 18 cases of COVID-19.  There were NONE in the two-dose vaccinated group.  Meaning the vaccine had 100% efficacy in preventing coronavirus in this age group.  The vaccinated group also showed a strong antibody response one month after being given the vaccine.  The vaccine is well tolerated, with side effects generally consistent with those observed in participants aged 16 to 25 in earlier trials.  Temporary common side effects for the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine can include a sore arm, redness at the injection site, fatigue, fever, chills, headache, joint pain, enlarged lymph nodes, and muscle pain.  Blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson adenovirus COVID-19 vaccine were not associated the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met May 12th and recommended administration of the Pfizer vaccine for children age 12-15.

It’s a choice to make between you and your child.  But achieving 70%–80% herd immunity is what it will take to safely get back to normal.  Jackson and Lauryn are eager go to camps this summer, have sleepovers with friends, go on an airplane, and see their grandparents indoors.  They also want to protect their almost 4-year-old sister, Charleigh, who is not eligible for the vaccine until the September.

Ultimately, I trust the science, not the politics.  The side effect profile of the vaccine is low.  The vaccine protects my kids from COVID-19 and MIS-C.  I am not putting my kids in harm’s way.  By vaccinating my family, we will be protecting our community.  More than anything, I want them to get back to NORMAL.  But, to safely do that, it will take an entire village, a community, a parish, STA.

The vaccine should be available as soon as May 13th.  Here are resources to locate the Pfizer mRNA COVID-19 vaccine near you:

For more information on COVID-19 in children, please visit the AAP healthychildren.org website

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.