Katie Wilkinson: Choosing to Vaccinate Your Child

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Parents are now facing the choice of whether to get t heir young children vaccinated against COVID 19. Katie Wilkinson details how she made her choice.

To say that I am excited kids 5 to 11 can now receive the COVID vaccine would be the understatement of the year. I know there is a lot of hesitation around getting kids vaccinated, so I want to share my reasons for vaccinating my 6-year-old daughter this weekend.

For me it comes down to the fact that there is a much higher risk of my daughter having a bad effect from COVID than from the vaccine. While kids are thankfully at less risk than adults, COVID was the eighth leading cause of death this year for kids in her age group. And COVID doesn't just cause death--many kids were hospitalized, have lingering effects, or just had a really unpleasant illness. The COVID vaccine, on the other hand, caused no severe side effects in the trial and was extremely good at protecting kids from being infected with COVID. So on an individual level, I think the COVID vaccine will protect my daughter with a very low risk of adverse effects.

Vaccines don't just protect individuals, though. They are also crucial at protecting our communities. With enough people vaccinated, there are very few hosts for the virus, which brings down spread. It also reduces the likelihood of even scarier variants evolving. Kids do seem to spread COVID, although at potentially lower rates than adults. But this means that even if my daughter isn't seriously affected by COVID, she could pass it on to a vulnerable adult.

The vaccines are very good, but as with any medical intervention, not perfect. My grandmother recently died from a breakthrough case of COVID she caught in a Florida nursing home. Vaccination rates for Florida nursing home workers are under 50%, the second worst rate in the nation. I wish more people in my grandmother’s community had been vaccinated to help protect her.

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If you are hesitant about vaccinating your kids, I hope you reconsider and choose to protect both your children and your community.

With a Perspective, I’m Katie Wilkinson.

Katie Wilkinson is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at San José State University and a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project