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Hattiesburg pediatrician answers vaccine FAQs

What parents should know
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 5:34 PM CST
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - As of Nov. 18, the Mississippi State Department of Health reports 6,516 kids between the ages of five and 11 have gotten their first dose of the pediatric COVID vaccine. They are part of nearly 2.5 million kids nationwide according to the White House.

Hattiesburg Clinic Pediatrician Dr. Victoria Sivils, M.D. says since the Pfizer vaccine has been approved, appointments have been booked.

“We’ve had a lot of interest. In fact, our COVID vaccination clinics that we’re currently doing at the pediatric clinic with Hattiesburg Clinic are booked. They’re full, and so we’re having to find places to open up slots to get more children in that age range vaccinated,” she says.

Sivils says she still gets a lot of questions about understanding the need for a pediatric vaccine.

“The most frequently asked question I get is, ‘Is it even important for our healthy children to get vaccinated against COVID?’ And my answer to that is a resounding ‘Yes.’ You know, children are affected by the Coronavirus that we have had hospitalizations, and we, unfortunately, have had some deaths that, at this point, will be preventable with the vaccine for this age range. So I think it’s very important for those reasons,” Sivils says.

She says parents often also ask if it’s really necessary.

“A lot of an explanation why families don’t want to get vaccinated is that they’ve made it this far in the pandemic. And so why now? And my response to that is always, ‘All the variants.’ So the Delta variant that we saw in [the] summer was twice as infectious as an initial COVID variant. And I expect that we will have other variants in the future and the way to get our children protected from those future, potentially more contagious, variants is to get them their vaccines today,” she explains.

Sivils says she understands parents’ concerns and that’s why she wants to talk to them and address what is the safest option for protecting your kids.

“The most common concern I get is about the long-term effects of the vaccine. And when I talk to parents about that, I make sure we focus on what we know. So we know that COVID can cause long-term complications in children. We know that it can cause multi-inflammatory syndrome in children. And so this vaccine prevents that the things that we know are bad things associated with and so any long term effects are kind of unfounded at this point. We’ve had 195 million Americans have got these vaccines. So I think they’re safe for all of our children,” Sivils says.

Sivils says there’s now a lot of research about pediatric COVID vaccines and your child’s next wellness visit is the perfect time to ask your questions or get the shot.

“We have now studied the vaccines enough to know it is safe to give a COVID vaccine with any other vaccine. And so our families are busy. They don’t want to have to come back multiple times to the doctor’s office. So it is safe to give with routine vaccinations that are recommended, you know, at our wellness visits. It’s often said also safe to give the COVID vaccine with a flu vaccine. And we really are trying to push flu vaccine this season too, because we are afraid that this flu season is going to be a big one,” Sivils explains.

MSDH is now offering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations. You can find a site here or you can reach out to your child’s pediatrician to make an appointment and ask questions.

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