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COVID Vaccine And Kids: A Conversation About Parental Concerns And Vaccine Hesitancy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The decision to vaccinate children as young as five years old has not been an easy one for many families.

CBS2's Jessica Moore sat down with a group of parents, along with a pediatrician, to talk about their concerns.

Moore: I have two toddlers myself. I have a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. So I get it, I get that there are questions. We all are vaccinated. You had to be to get inside the broadcast center. But when you think about giving your kids the shot, there are more questions that go into making that decision.

Roya Kalaghchi: I don't like putting tons of things into their bodies without knowing how they're going to react to it. What are the long term effects? I just - it just makes me hesitant to give them something so new.

Marjory Lake: My biggest concern stems from the fact that being a person of color, we're naturally, I think, a little more apprehensive about being vaccinated and not getting the full story or not, or feeling like we're not getting the full story right.

Now we have vaccines, and they're taking our voice away, are my concerns. You know, I'm not just readily in the front of the line to say, here, here's my children.


Moore: And so when you say taking your voice away, what do you mean by that?

Lake: We all started where the world was burning down, everyone was, you know, right, dying. The whole world was dying, and then we woke up, or it felt like we woke up, and then there's a vaccine for adults, which was great, right? And then fast forward. Now there's a vaccine for children. It just seems so fast.

Dr. Rebecca Farber, pediatrician: So the wonderful thing about vaccines is that we do understand them. Even the mRNA vaccines, these vaccines have been worked on, as far as studying and the outside public throughout the, not just the United States, but in other countries for over 20 years. This research is not that new... think there's no risk, free choice.

What happens if our child gets COVID, and we failed as moms to protect them? What happens if they get multi system inflammatory syndrome? This is real. What happens if they get long COVID? And six months later, even though they didn't have symptoms at the time, six months later, they have joint pain and fatigue. They can't play soccer the way they were supposed to play soccer.

I tell you a long time ago, I had a patient. This is about 15 years ago, and the mom didn't want to vaccinate for pertussis, and the baby, I can still picture her in her pink sweater and she's holding her baby's hand in the intensive care unit. And what she wouldn't give to go back in time if she had the ability to vaccinate.

CBS2's Jessica Moore sat down with a group of parents, along with a pediatrician, to talk about their concerns. (CBS2)

Moore: Did that story change any of your minds? Did it make you feel something?

Lake: I immediately thought "Oh, my God, what if that happened with COVID?"

Moore: Talia, I wanted to bring you in. Tell me a little bit about some of the questions that you and your husband discussed before making this decision and your thought process?

Talia Kasher: I really trusted the science behind it. I think that it was also that our kids kind of really suffered this past year and a half. You know, we were really not letting them do a lot and we wanted things to get back to normal. So getting the vaccine really felt like the best way to get things back to normal. And I also really felt like I wanted them to know that they were kind of part of a bigger picture too. And that it was a public health issue.

Alyssa Picchini Schaffer is a scientist whose 4-year-old daughter is currently enrolled in a clinical trial for the pediatric Moderna vaccine. 

Picchini Schaffer: I worried about the effects a lot of COVID on my kids long term, and I sort of really understand deeply the effects of the vaccine, how long it sticks around how safe it is.

I want nothing more than for things to get back to normal- I see the toll it's taken on my kids educationally, socially and I ((cut out stumble here) don't put my kids in a car without a car seat. I don't let them cross the street without holding my hand and I know the best way for me to get them back into the world safely is to do it vaccinated.

Some of the biggest misconceptions focused on future infertility for little girls. 

Kalaghchi: I think I just need more information which is hard to find.

I think hearing more about the mRNA technology. I also heard about, like, the microchip, and, like, how it's going to change your DNA, and how it's going to do this, that and the other and, like hearing more. And then it's like, who do you trust? Because there's doctors saying one thing, and then there's doctor saying another thing? And you're like, well, you're both doctors, you both went to school? You both have degrees? You both been practicing? Yeah. And it's like, who do, like, who do I - who do I listen to?


Lake: I've heard about the little microchips and the tracing and everything and I don't believe any of it, just for the record. But you hear it enough, you're just like, alright, but you - you know - everyone wants to dip into the dip their toe into the "I'm an expert" field, right? And there are too many experts, so many hands on the pot. Your head is just spinning with so much information.

Farber: I find it overwhelming, actually quite scary, right? Because I feel like the misinformation game has been winning. Again, I'm going to come back to the pediatricians and the infectious disease doctors are quite humble, smart people that are quite quiet about it. And our voice has not been heard.

At the end of the discussion, both moms who were vaccine hesitant said they were more open to giving their children the COVID shot. Both wanted to do more research and make sure their husbands were also on board. 

Picchini Schaffer: It's scary. It's totally scary. I wish that more of the best information was getting out there on the loud platform, so that people didn't feel so worried about it. You know, it's so hard. We all want what's best for our kids. Hands down, yeah.

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