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But Really, Should My Child Get the Covid Vaccine?

Whether or not your child gets the Covid vaccine is your choice, but make sure it's an informed one.
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Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
January 19, 2022
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6 min
Minute Read

New year, new Covid variant. I know, we are all getting tired of this, of the changing rules and safety guidelines and of the seemingly endless feeling of this pandemic. And no one is more tired than parents. 

On top of school closures, canceled sports and activities, you’re juggling never-ending questions about how to keep your child safe. You see one thing online, then a friend tells you something else. Your pediatrician tells something but the doctor on T.V. is disputing it. It’s exhausting and trust me, as a pediatrician myself, I know. I’m seeing weary parents and kids walk through my doors every day.

One of the biggest questions on parents’ minds right now, especially in the light of the Omicron variant, is: should my child get the vaccine? Now that vaccines have been approved for children age five and up, this is a question all parents must consider.

The answer is not immediately clear to all parents and that’s good. This is a question you should consider thoughtfully. To help guide you in deciding what’s best for your child and family, I recently had a conversation with Dr. Marty Makary. Dr. Makary is a Johns Hopkins researcher and leading medical voice on Covid. You can listen to my full, and candid, conversation with Dr. Makary on my podcast, Parenting Great Kids, where we talked about everything from vaccines to masks to mandates, but for the sake of this article, I’ll address what Makary had to say about your kids, the vaccine, and determining what the best path is for your child’s health and safety.

Should children get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus?

Dr. Makary draws a clear line here. If your child has an existing medical condition such as diabetes, obesity, or respiratory disease, then yes, they should get the vaccine because Covid could have a more negative effect on your child if he already has an illness. If your child is generally healthy, then no, they don’t need the vaccine.

The vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting Covid entirely, but it does reduce the severity of the disease, reducing your chances of hospitalization and death. Because the child death rate from Covid is nearly nonexistent, children simply don’t need the vaccine as much as an immunocompromised adult would.

Is myocarditis a serious threat to my child?

Myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, has been reported as an adverse reaction to the Covid vaccine, especially in adolescent boys and young adults. Dr. Makary says the data suggests 1 in 1,800 boys and young men are at risk for myocarditis, which medically speaking, is a relatively high risk. Because most children are not experiencing severe disease when contracting Covid, it may not be worth the risk for your teen boy to get the vaccine.

Are masks keeping my child safe at school?

As Omicron circulates, I know many parents are wondering if wearing masks is keeping their child safe from the variant. Dr. Makary says yes and no. Cloth masks, he says, don’t do much to protect us from Covid because the size of the Covid micron can pass through the fibers. A medical-grade mask does provide some protection, reducing transmission by about 11%.

In my experience at my practice, masks are doing children more harm than good, causing them distress because each time they put it on they are reminded of the fear around Covid. It also makes them feel like a leper around their friends and classmates. While masks might be making a marginal difference in a child’s physical health, masks have been harmful to children’s emotional health, so I’m not sure they’re doing our kids much good.

Parents, vaccines are always a hot topic and difficult subject to discuss. If you’d like to talk about this article or this episode of my podcast with Dr. Makary, I encourage you to join my online parenting community, Parenting Great Kids, where you can interact with me on our chat board, connect with other parents, and get access to all of my online parenting resources. This is your one-stop shop for all things parenting advice and support. I’d for you to join us there. Click here to join today!

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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