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Omaha doctor sets record straight on misinformation as children’s vaccine gets final approval

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 10:27 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - With Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses for children 5 to 11 years of age expected to arrive in the Omaha-metro within the coming days, doctors working hard to get parents on board are desperate to dispel myths and misinformation.

“We hope to have that vaccine in our hands in the next couple of days so we can start vaccinating,” said Dr. Melissa St. Germain, Pediatrician at Children’s Hospital.

There’s a long way to go in getting parents comfortable with the shot. A recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found just one-third of parents will be ready to get their kids vaccinated right away.

“Parents do have lots of questions, and we want to be able to answer them,” said Dr. St. Germain, who’s setting the record straight on misinformation, for example, she is reiterating the vaccine has no impact on fertility.

“That’s a hard one to address because there’s not even any scientific basis for it. It’s hard to even trace it back to where it started,” said the doctor.

The doctors say don’t worry.

“We do know from lots and lots of women who have gotten pregnant had healthy babies after their COVID vaccinations, is that we have not seen any decrease in fertility rate among those vaccinated.”

Parents also have myocarditis on the mind. It’s inflammation of the heart and it’s impacted a small percent of vaccinated boys.

“It’s something like 13 cases in a million. It’s very, very uncommon and it’s far more uncommon than myocarditis after COVID disease,” St. Germain said.

“I think a lot of people think ‘I’m afraid to do the vaccine because it might put him at risk for myocarditis,’ but not giving the vaccine and having your child get COVID puts him at a much higher risk of myocarditis,” said Dr. Germain.

The experts noting the short-term side effects of the vaccine are nothing compared to the potential long-term side effects of COVID on children: from brain fog to chronic headaches.

“There are risks to not vaccinating as well and I think parents need to remember that when they’re trying to weigh that risk-benefit ratio,” St. Germain said.

The vaccine also offers an opportunity to keep COVID-19 out of local schools. Millard Public Schools shut the doors of Black Elk Elementary for two weeks because of an outbreak, with the case count at 38.

One of the Black Elk students is at Children’s Hospital and the family tells 6 News their 9-year-old son is struggling to fight off the virus.

Douglas County Health reported Tuesday that five children were hospitalized with COVID-19.

“We’ve been talking about how to best message around the vaccine and how to overcome some of the hesitancy that still remains there,” said Dr. Lindsay Huse, Director, Douglas County Health Department.

Doctors like St. Germain are pleading with parents to get their children the shot.

“We’ve had hundreds of kids who have died of COVID in this country in the last 18 to 20 months, and we don’t want to have any more,” she said. “This is a vaccine we can do to prevent any more of those deaths from happening.”

Children’s Hospital will be hosting vaccination clinics for young children twice a week at two of its locations starting as early as Thursday.

The Douglas County Health Department is also working out plans to dole the shot.

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