Pediatricians across state offering their opinions on COVID vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 years of age
WV Press News Sharing
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When a child is sick, parents want to hear the opinion of their pediatrician.
To help West Virginia parents who are trying to decide whether to get their children vaccinated against COVID, pediatricians across the state are sharing their thoughts on the safety and need for the vaccine.
As the state and federal government prepare to start Pediatric COVID vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, Gov. Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources asked local pediatricians to share their opinion on the vaccination.
Dr. Ellie Smith has spent 11 years treating children in the state’s Eastern Panhandle. She is currently the chair of pediatrics at both Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg and Jefferson Medical Center in Ranson. A resident of Shepherdstown, Smith knows the children, the families, and the communities. She has a message for her patients and all parents in West Virginia.
“The best advice is that everyone in that age group should get it because that is what will impact everything in our communities,” Dr. Smith said of pediatric vaccines for children ages 5 to 11.
“This is our way of protecting your family. … I feel very confident in that piece that we are ready. We can protect our kids. When they say the science tells us it’s OK, it is,” Dr. Smith said.
“Ask your pediatrician. We are rolling out … the plan is to get the vaccine in the clinics because they know you need to talk to your doctor about this. … You need to hear from (your doctor) that they understand the benefit and the risk…. Because at this point, not making a decision is actually making a decision as well,” Dr. Smith said, adding “With (COVID) being a pandemic, you are either going to get the vaccine or you are going to get sick.”
Smith said getting the vaccine will benefit the entire family and community. With the vaccine, Dr. Smith said school kids are not as likely to bring COVID home to the babies, younger siblings, grandparents, or community members.
Dr. Smith said many families are suffering from the financial impact of COVID in terms of lost day care time and workdays when a parent must stay home with a child who is sick with what could be COVID.
Smith advises all West Virginia parents to talk with their pediatricians or doctors.
The CDE reports there are approximately 28 million children between the ages of 5-11 years old in the United States. The U.S. government has enough vaccines for those children. FDA authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met on Tuesday, Nov. 2, to discuss a recommendation for this age group.
The CDC notes children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, get sick from COVID-19, and spread COVID-19 to others. “Getting a COVID-19 vaccination can help protect your child from getting COVID-19. Early information shows that the vaccines may help keep people from spreading COVID-19 to others. They can also help keep your child from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19. Help protect your whole family by getting yourself and your children 12 years and older vaccinated against COVID-19,” according to the CDC.
To locate upcoming vaccination clinics, parents can check with their local pharmacy, pediatrician, community newspaper, county health department or visit DHHR.WV.gov