State Epidemiologist Encourages Families of Child Vaccine Benefits

Carmela Karcher

COVID-19 is now one of the top five leading causes of death in children.

But as of yesterday, children as young as six months old began rolling up their sleeves for the shot across the state.

“This is the last age group,” California State Epidemiologist, Dr. Erica Pan, said. “I know many parents have been anxiously waiting for this time and really excited that it’s finally here.”

Parents nationwide have been waiting, and now it’s available for the whole family.

“I know a lot of people want to move on,” she continued. “But we are seeing higher rates of COVID transition even here in California.”

Dr. Pan says this comes at a critical time since the state has seen higher hospitalization rates in children under five over the last several months.

“Thankfully, in general, most cases are mild, and it is rare, but it’s now preventable,” she explained. “These vaccines absolutely are safe and effective and they prevent hospitalizations and deaths.”

But some parents are hesitant not knowing if this vaccine could affect their children in the long run.

“The side effects were very similar to other vaccines. We didn’t see any serious adverse outcomes in these trials. Some soreness may be at the site, you might have a low grade temperature, maybe some fatigue or tiredness,” Dr. Pan said.

In fact, she says getting the virus could lead to long-term health complications.

“If you don’t get COVID, you’re also not going to get what we call a long COVID or post acute COVID,” Dr. Pan explained. “We’re still learning more about how the kids can get that as well and having these long term impacts, whether it’s problems thinking and cognitive problems or problems with your lungs, we’re seeing more diabetes after people have had COVID too. So there are a lot of other impacts we’re still learning about and kids, healthy kids, are having those as well. So this is another prevention tool to help try to avoid that.”

And just like other vaccines, parents can expect a three dose series.

“This is our last age group and really encourage everyone to get their whole family vaccinated at this point and or get boosted if you’re bringing your child in to get vaccinated and help us prevent long COVID hospitalizations and deaths and our youngest children,” she said.

Another common question parents have is, if my child has already been infected, should they still get vaccinated?

Dr. Pan says, absolutely.

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