The new Covid-19 vaccines were developed in record time, a remarkable achievement of collaboration by the world’s scientific community. But pediatricians are already seeing opposition to the vaccines among parents.
“Misinformation about vaccines is nothing new,” said Dr. Lisa Gwynn, the president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “People think that vaccines cause autism, which has been scientifically disproven. There’s all kinds of misinformation.”
Social media is rife with conspiracy theories about the vaccines, which we will not amplify here by repeating them. Last week, a Miami-Dade County megachurch pastor told his congregants not to take the vaccine because they should just rely on God to protect them instead.
Dr. Gwynn is part of the Miami-Dade school district’s medical expert task force. She warned the district this week that anti-vaxxers, such as the pastor, would be spreading opposition to the vaccination effort. School districts see the vaccines as a way to finally get schools back to normal.
“It is important to make that point with the school district because they need to understand the challenges that are out there,” Dr. Gwynn said. “School districts have been very supportive of vaccinations of children, but this is a different environment that we’re in right now.”
However, there is a legitimate reason for concern as well. Dr. Gwynn says the Covid-19 vaccines have not yet been fully tested on young children.
“The way that we find out if it’s efficacious or effective in children, we have to do the clinical trials, and that’s what’s going on right now, but clinical trials are beginning in younger children and so we just have to wait and see what the results are,” Dr. Gwynn said.
“The FDA prides itself on safety first,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty. “Every aspect of this is being looked at extremely carefully as well as how we’re gonna do the actual implementation.”
Dr. Marty is talking about the FDA’s vaccine approval process.
FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said Thursday that America should have confidence in his agency’s review process and take the vaccine when it’s approved.
“We need to get to herd immunity and that requires a substantial percentage of Americans to be vaccinated,” Dr. Hahn said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said to reach herd immunity, 75% of the American population would have to be vaccinated.
“The longer we wait to get the vaccine, the longer it’s gonna take us to get out of this,” Dr. Gwynn said.
As it is now, children must have a whole host of immunizations to attend public schools. That system has worked for decades to keep the population safe from measles, mumps, rubella, polio and more diseases. Now it’s possible that at some point, the Covid-19 vaccine will also be required, but the school districts are a long way from making that decision.