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Dr. Marc Siegel: Vaccinate your kid? This COVID conversation belongs in your doctor's office

Dr. Marc Siegel: Vaccinate your kid? This COVID conversation belongs in your doctor's office


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One of my childhood friends told me that there was a testing section at the high school where children are suffering from brain fog after they have been released from COVID-19. They have more time to pass their tests. 

It is the untold tale of the pandemic, short and long term cognitive problems affecting all ages. 


A rare form of myocarditis, especially in teenage boys who received too much MRNA vaccine. Regardless of the reason, there is a low incidence and most people recover. The risk of COVID in the young is more than 10%. There are also over 150 deaths among children aged 5 to 11. According to the CDC.

These are the kind of risk/benefit analyses that take place every day in pediatricians’ offices—conversations between doctor and patient and parent, where the risk of the disease is compared to the potential side effects of the treatment or vaccine. 

The same kind of discussion appears headed for pediatricians’ offices where young children will likely be offered the option of the Pfizer vaccine as early as next week. The doctor’s office—with a smaller needle and the familiar pediatrician as a guide—is where this conversation belongs, not at a political podium or in the news media. 

Dr. David Kessler, pediatrician, former FDA commissioner, current Chief Science Advisor for President Joe Biden’s COVID response team, told me in an interview last week on SiriusXM that he helped steer the process towards this important outcome.

Biden speaks on vaccines for children and COVID response, does not take questions Video

The FDA Advisory Committee made another crucial decision Tuesday. It included several leading Pediatric Infectious Disease specialists and unanimously recommended approval (at one-third the adult dose) of the vaccine for children aged 5-11 under emergency use authorization.

The data was evaluated for safety and effectiveness, with more than 90% of the results proving it to be effective. The advisory committee’s head of vaccines and top child infectious disease specialist at Pennsylvania, Dr. Paul Offit recently explained to me that the recommendations are based on whether the members would give the vaccine themselves. 

FILE PHOTO: Pfizer/BioNTech's new pediatric COVID-19 vaccine vials are seen in this undated handout photo. Pfizer/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

This case was a success. The FDA and CDC are certain to follow suit and approve the application.

Then comes the doctor’s office, sometime in early November. In the meantime, young children are spreading the virus, and though most do quite well, some don’t. Thousands have been admitted to hospital.

Committee members base their recommendations on their willingness to administer the vaccine to their child.

A close family member is fully vaccinated. However, he’s obese and has a chronic illness. The coronavirus was brought home by his young son from school. A few days later, his symptoms included fatigue, fever and shortness-of-breath.

CDC greenlights 'mix-and-match' COVID boosters Video

While he recovered, it struck me that the decision whether or not to immunize a 5-year-old child with a safe and efficient vaccine in the middle a pandemic was more than a simple one. It involves weighing the risks of an extended sequelae or worsening COVID. The vaccine side effects are much less likely to cause serious complications. It’s also an assessment of the risk that an infected child presents to the community at large—a risk to parents who may be at much higher risk than children are.


This is a fundamental lesson for public health that can be learned by all children: The only way to end this pandemic or other similar ones is to reduce the number of susceptible host or virus circulating to the point the virus has very few alternatives. 


Although COVID can provide immunity, it is best to spread vaccinations to all ages and not just to those who are most at risk. Even though natural immunity is not always guaranteed, most people are able to maintain a good level of immunity for at the very least three months. 

Then, it is worth at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, both in adulthood and very quickly in children.


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