Local pediatrician weighs in on vaccine hesitancy among parents

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Posted at 5:51 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 19:37:21-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is expected to receive emergency use authorization next week for kids in the 12 to 15 age range.

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

The poll shows three out of 10 parents of children ages 12 to 15 would get their children vaccinated right away.

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

Roughly another quarter of parents will not get their child vaccinated.

As next week's EUA vote approaches, many parents will soon be making decisions about getting their kids vaccinated.

Dr. Natasha Burgert, pediatrician with Pediatric Associates in Overland Park, said she's hearing the same mix of answers from the families she cares for.

"Some people want to get their kids vaccinated right away, some are the wait and see's, and some probably aren’t going to be interested in really looking into it unless there’s some sort of consequence, which really for most people means school participation," Burgert said.

Burgert said questions and concerns from parents are 100% appropriate. She's encouraging them to continue getting their information from their trusted experts.

"I have families who, when that decision is getting closer, are starting to deviate or are starting to go down rabbit holes from a very coordinated effort in order to make them doubt, so remember who your experts are," Burgert said.

Burgert is eager to see what comes from the EUA meeting next week. She called Pfizer's initial reports of its vaccine being 100% effective in kids aged 12 - 15 'remarkable.'

"This will save lives, this will stop the pandemic, and if the literature that we are given next week supports that claim that Pfizer has alluded to, I will be recommending this vaccine for my own children and for the children I care for," Burgert said.

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

"I just wish that more adults were willing to get it," Araque said.

Burgert said she continues to see COVID-19 cases in the patients she cares for. Recently, the main cause for transmission has come from primary caregivers who are not vaccinated, sports participation, and children traveling to other parts of the country with higher infection rates.

Burgert anticipates the anti-vaccine community will work to spread misinformation in the coming days leading up to the EUA vote. She said they often highlight the same issues for every new vaccine, which are autoimmune disorders or infertility.

"It’s a pretty classic target for anti-vaccine rhetoric because it’s nearly impossible to disprove that because those are so prevalent in a woman or in a person's life history," Burgert said.