Marin forums discuss pediatric COVID-19 vaccine

When it comes to COVID-19, young children are at greater risk of serious long-term side effects from infection than vaccination, experts from a Marin panel said.

“Some children are getting very sick from COVID-19,” Dr. Theodore Ruel, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, said during the online forum in front of about 430 participants last week. “Worrying about the long-term effects of the vaccine is misplaced. “

Ruel and Dr Tara Greenhow, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, participated in a webinar hosted by the Marin County Office of Education to support parents at Marin School with children ages 5 to 11.

The webinar, the first of three offered to residents of Marin until the end of this week, was intended to prepare families if a reduced dose Pfizer vaccine is cleared for emergency use for children 5 to 11 years old. by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. October 26.

Greenhow said the data on the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine for children is comparable to that reported for adolescents 12 to 15 years old.

“The vaccine has been shown to be safe, with some mild side effects after a day or two,” she said. The researchers also followed the adolescents for a month after being vaccinated.

“There were no blood clots or severe allergic reactions,” Greenhow said. “About 0.4% had serious adverse events, but none were considered vaccine-related and, most importantly, no deaths were reported.”

Common side effects in the 1000 adolescent subjects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, and fever. Greenhow said at least a quarter of the 1,000-person placebo group, who only received an injection of saline, also reported fatigue and headaches.

The dose of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is 10 micrograms – one-third of the adult dose of 30 micrograms.

“Under the careful guidance of public health, experience to date has shown that the Marin families will seize this opportunity,” said Mary Jane Burke, Superintendent of Marin Schools.

“Currently 84% of eligible youth ages 12 and older are vaccinated in Marin County, with no warrant in place,” Burke said. “We hope for similar success with the next vaccine rollout. “

Panelist Dr Matt Willis, head of public health for Marin County, said if the FDA cleared the pediatric vaccine, the county would still have to wait for subsequent approvals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Western States Scientific Review. Group before dispensing doses. .

All three approvals are expected in early November. More than 30 clinics have already been set up in Marin through mid-December to offer the pediatric vaccine, Willis said. The goal is for 15,000 of Marin’s 20,000 children in this age group to receive their first dose within one month of authorization.

“We are walking in slow motion down the aisle,” Willis said. “We are ready to go. “

The Marin County Education Office will offer a second forum in Spanish from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Dr Peter Simon of Marin Community Clinics; Dr Nicolas Mottola, pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente; and Lucia Martel-Dow, administrator of the San Rafael Board of Education and director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

Panels and recordings are available on marineschools.org. Both events are available in Spanish or English translation.

A third forum is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Rocky Graham Park at 850 Drake Ave. in Marin City. The panelists will be Santora; Dr Elizabeth Talley, professor of pediatrics at Stanford Children’s Health; Alena Maunder, nurse manager of Zuckerberg General Hospital in San Francisco and administrator of the Sausalito Marin City school district; Dr Joy Lewis, physician in internal medicine; and moderator Frank Omowale Satterwhite, president of Leadership Inc.

Masks are mandatory. A light dinner will be served from 4 p.m.

During last week’s webinar, panelists detailed the benefits and risks of pediatric vaccines.

While the majority of side effects are mild and short-lived, Greenhow said a potential “very rare” side effect called myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle – was much more common after COVID-19 infections than after a dose of vaccine. The condition causes chest pain, shortness of breath, and palpitations.

“A viral infection is the most common cause of myocarditis,” she said. “You are 16 times more likely to have myocarditis if you have a COVID-19 infection than if you are a patient without COVID-19. “

Ruel, Greenhow and Willis said they themselves have young children who would be eligible for pediatric vaccines, so they understand parents’ concerns.

“Every family should weigh these risks and benefits when making the important decision about whether or not to immunize their children,” said Greenhow. She urged families not to rely on false information, myths or deliberate disinformation on social media or other online channels.

Burke agreed.

“We fully understand that this is a very important step for families as we move towards immunizing our young children,” she said. “This gives responsibility to our schools and health partners to ensure parents are fully informed through events such as the pediatric immunization panels held last week and this week. “

Ruel said the myriad of benefits outweigh the risks.

“It’s difficult for me when I treat children in intensive care who have COVID,” Ruel said. “It causes disease and death – it is not good for children.”

Willis said he expected the state to force the COVID-19 vaccine on children to go to school early next year. Marin was already ahead of the game with 84% of 12- to 17-year-olds fully vaccinated – and that was without any vaccine warrant, he said.

“We are simply adding the COVID-19 vaccination to the list of preventable diseases – such as measles, mumps, pertussis and rubella – which are necessary for a child to go to school,” he said. he declares.

Marin has the highest vaccination rate in the state, with 98% of eligible residents 12 and older having at least one dose and 92.7% fully vaccinated. Almost 81% of all residents of Marin are fully immunized.

Marin also has the lowest viral community transmission rate in the state, having entered the “moderate” yellow level last week in the CDC’s color code. tracking system. The yellow level means that the county has an average of 18 positive cases or less per day, calculated over a period of one week.

County data on viruses and vaccines is online at coronavirus.marinhhs.org

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