This week, the CDC approved COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11. But even with that approval, misinformation about kids and the vaccines continues to spread on social media. CapRadio’s PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols explains the facts in this week’s Can You Handle The Truth segment.
He joined CapRadio’s afternoon anchor Randol White to discuss the claim.
On the facts about children and coronavirus
There has been a lot of bad information on this topic. Here’s what we know:
Children tend to get more mild cases of COVID-19. It’s rare for them to get really sick or be hospitalized. But there are exceptions. Yolo County Public Health Officer Aimee Sisson told a virtual town hall this week the disease still can have serious consequences for children. She cited CDC data.
“Across the United States, since the beginning of the pandemic, 791 children ages 0 to 17 have died from COVID,” Sisson said. “And 172 of these were between the ages of 5 and 11, which are the ages that we are talking about expanding vaccine authorization into.”
Sisson said she strongly recommends children get vaccinated against COVID-19.
On what experts say about child hospitalizations and deaths
As Sisson pointed out in this town hall, the numbers might seem small but that’s because child deaths are always rare, from any cause. But COVID-19 has become one of the leading causes of death for kids this year.
Among children ages five through 14, it ranked as the number six leading cause of death in August and September, according to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
On whether the vaccine is safe for children
To be approved for children, COVID-19 vaccines have to go through a lengthy approval process. They are tested in human trials and must meet the FDA’s standards for safety and effectiveness.
When they recommended the vaccine for young children this week, both the FDA and CDC pointed to the results of the trials conducted by Pfizer … for their vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
Pfizer’s study included 4,600 children worldwide … and it found its vaccine was 90 percent effective against COVID-19 among young children. Notably, the vaccine for kids 5 to 11 will be one-third the dose given to teens and adults.
On concerns about the vaccine’s connection to young people developing myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle
The CDC has confirmed nearly 900 cases of vaccine-related myocarditis in people age 30 or younger, but cases have generally been mild and there have been no deaths.
But health officials say the coronavirus itself is more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine. Dr. Matthew Oster, who studies myocarditis for the CDC and is a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, was quoted by NPR saying: "The bottom line is getting COVID, is much riskier to the heart than getting this vaccine.”
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