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They’re Not Anti-Vaccine, but These Parents Are Hesitant About the Covid Shot

Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine, who wrote an article for The Times debunking disinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine and fertility, said: “Even during the vaccine trials some of the women inadvertently got pregnant. There’s nothing even to empirically support” a link between infertility and the Covid vaccine. “I have two daughters myself, who are in the 12-14 year age group, I totally understand the fear,” she said. “But there’s really no basis for it.”

Molly Herman, 35, who has a 2-year-old and is 32 weeks pregnant with her second child, said she’s anxious about giving her daughter the vaccine, even though she chose to get the shot during her pregnancy. Her daughter has never had antibiotics and she’s barely been sick, so “I don’t know what she’s allergic to,” said Ms. Herman, who lives in Medfield, Mass., and works in higher education.

Nicole Frehsee Mazur, 39, who lives in Birmingham, Mich., was also concerned about her children, who are 4 and 6, having an allergic reaction to the vaccine, because she had an averse response to the Moderna shot and the kids have allergies. “I’m not opposed to vaccinating them, I would just like to wait until more kids are vaccinated,” she said.

Vaccines may be available for children over 2 by September at the earliest, so these concerns are theoretical at the moment. Dr. Nia Heard-Garris, a pediatrician and a researcher at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, said that she understands parents’ hesitations. “That kind of conversation has been present before we had a feasible vaccine, especially from groups that have been marginalized and experimented on. It’s not a fear that’s far-fetched,” she said.

But Dr. Heard-Garris said she trusts the science and the data, and that the abstract fears of the vaccine’s long-term effects should be weighed against the real-life impacts of the virus. As the A.A.P. President Dr. Beers put it: “While fewer children than adults have suffered the most severe disease, this is not a benign disease in children. Thousands of children have been hospitalized, and hundreds have died.”

The doctors I spoke to were hopeful that, as the vaccine becomes a reality for young kids rather than an idea, parents will become less hesitant. They urged parents, especially those whose kids have allergies, to talk to their pediatricians about the best approach for their children.

Dr. Talib said that parents and teens alike in her practice have said they would feel more comfortable getting their vaccines in a pediatrician’s office, closely monitored by a doctor they know, than at a large vaccine site like a convention center or a pharmacy, the way many adults have been vaccinated. Last week, President Biden said that he was shifting his administration’s vaccination strategy away from mass vaccination sites and toward more local sites in order to get more shots to younger people and the vaccine hesitant.

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