We have sailed out of the storm, but the voyage is not over. In general, new cases of COVID have decreased. So why should we vaccinate children less than five years of age?
In many respects, children under five are more vulnerable to severe respiratory disease. They have smaller airways. COVID causes these airways to become narrow and more challenging to breathe through. They have smaller lungs with a decreased capacity to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen. They have new lungs with negligible damage (unless your child was born prematurely). Their immune systems are unfamiliar with many germs. That means that their bodies have had less experience fighting germs. In the absence of teaching their body how to fight off COVID through vaccination then, they will probably get sick.
Of the over 1 million people in the United States who have died from COVID, 299 were less than one year old. Between 1 and 4 years, 143 children have been killed by COVID. Twenty-three of these children were from Indiana. The risk of dying from COVID in this age group is low but not zero. The loss of one child is too many.
COVID is toughest on senior citizens. Many of our elders provide daycare services to their families. Death from COVID is highest among people who have the most significant health problems. Many children are silent carriers of COVID. This problem places our seniors at greater risk of death from COVID.
For these and many more reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for use in children under the age of five years. Studies conducted by the vaccine manufacturers under the supervision of the CDC and the FDA have shown these vaccines to be safe and effective for children under five years old.
My office will be administering the vaccine to children less than five years of age. Families not enrolled in my practice are welcome to bring their children for vaccination. As new variants of the COVID virus arise, variant-specific vaccines will be developed.