Local pediatrician weighs in on vaccine hesitancy among parents

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is expected to receive emergency clearance next week for children aged 12-15 years.

A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that parents are reluctant to get their children vaccinated.

The poll shows that three out of ten parents of children between the ages of 12 and 15 would have their children vaccinated right away.

A quarter of them will wait and see how the vaccine works, and 18% will have their child vaccinated if their school requires it.

About a quarter of the parents will not have their child vaccinated.

As next week’s EUA vote approaches, many parents will soon be making decisions about vaccinating their children.

Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates in Overland Park, said she hears the same mix of answers from the families she cares about.

“ Some people want to get their kids vaccinated right away, some are waiting and some probably won’t be interested in actually looking at it unless there is some consequence, which for most people actually means school attendance, ” Burgert said.

Burgert said parents’ questions and concerns are 100% appropriate. She encourages them to keep getting their information from their trusted experts.

“I have families who, when that decision gets closer, start to diverge or through a very coordinated effort start going down rabbit burrows to make them question them, so remember who your experts are,” Burgert said.

Burgert is curious about what will come from the EUA meeting next week. She called Pfizer’s initial reports that the vaccine was 100% effective in children ages 12-15 “remarkable.”

“This will save lives, this will stop the pandemic, and if the literature we get next week supports this claim that Pfizer has alluded to, I will recommend this vaccine for my own children and for the children I care for.” Burgert said.

Marjory Araque, a Kansas City resident and parent, said she will have her 4-year-old and 9-year-old children vaccinated when the time comes, if their doctor recommends it.

“I wish more adults wanted to get it,” Araque said.

Burgert said she is still seeing COVID-19 cases in the patients she cares for. Recently, the leading cause of transmission has come from primary caregivers who have not been vaccinated, exercise, and children traveling to other parts of the country with higher rates of infection.

Burgert expects the anti-vaccination community to work in the days leading up to the EUA vote to spread disinformation. She said they often bring up the same problems for any new vaccine, namely autoimmune diseases or infertility.

“It’s a fairly classic target for anti-vaccine rhetoric because it’s nearly impossible to disprove because it’s so common in a woman or in a person’s life history,” Burgert said.

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