Vaccine Offers Children ‘Return To Normalcy,’ Iowa Doctors Say

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Iowa doctors are encouraging parents to vaccinate children 12 and older with the authorized Pfizer vaccine. “These things are game changers that will do so much to restore normalcy for our children and our families," pediatric hospitalist William Ching said.
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By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio

Some Iowa doctors have said parents still have many questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, especially now that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all children 12 and older get the authorized Pfizer vaccine.

Joel Waddell, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UnityPoint Health in Des Moines, said the vaccine will do much more than just protect children from developing severe cases of COVID-19.

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It will also help with mental health by allowing kids to return to a sense of normalcy, like visiting friends, family and even going to summer camps.

“We have asked a lot of this generation of children. We have asked them to not see their peers. We have asked them to do Zoom classrooms. We have asked them not to see their grandparents. We have asked a lot of them,” Waddell said on IPR’s Talk of Iowa. “So I think that there is immediate benefit of giving this vaccine and I think it’s going to loosen things up a little bit in terms of what activities are safe.”

He emphasized the vaccine is safe for children 12 and older. The vaccine finished trials quickly, Waddell described, but that doesn’t mean there were any “shortcuts” taken.

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William Ching, a pediatric hospitalist at UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, added since the vaccine is safe, if more children are vaccinated, it could help Iowa get closer to herd immunity.

“These [vaccines] are game changers that will do so much to restore normalcy for our children and our families,” Ching said on the program.

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He said the vaccine technology is a “dream.” He clarified in the trials, out of children who got the vaccine, zero contracted the coronavirus and there were no serious side effects related to the vaccine.

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As far as long-term side effects, Waddell explained there isn’t a likelihood that there will be any.

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“In the history of vaccine development, there has never been a vaccine developed where a long-term side effect was only seen years or decades later. That’s never occurred,” Waddell said. “There’s no scientific reason or historical reason to think there’s going to be long-term side effects.”

He recommended parents or those old enough to take the vaccine with more questions should contact their primary care doctor or pediatrician since they are the “boots on the ground,” during the pandemic.

Ching said although most times young children don’t experience severe symptoms of COVID-19, it could put them at risk of developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). True to its name, MIS-C causes a child’s internal organs to become inflamed. A child with MIS-C might have to be hospitalized for treatment.

“I’m so thrilled that we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and our ability to protect our children and our families…we feel so relieved and also hopeful that we will get back to normalcy with vaccination,” Ching said.

Both doctors recommended unvaccinated people still wear masks in close quarters as well as maintain a safe social distance around other, unvaccinated people.

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