Three pediatric researchers, including one from IU School of Medicine, are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. The op-ed about vaccinations which was co-authored by Chandy John, MD, Ryan White Endowed Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at IU School of Medicine, has been published in Inside Sources, as well as being picked up by other media outlets. John said the number of children who are getting sick from COVID-19 should be a wake-up call in itself.
“COVID-19 has killed more than 1,000 children and resulted in more than 540,000 hospitalization days for children in the U.S.,” said John, who is also the director of the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health at IU School of Medicine. “Most kids who get COVID-19 get mild disease, but with millions who get it, even the small percentage with severe disease is many thousands in the U.S. alone.”
John said there are many reasons to get children vaccinated, citing studies showing that the vaccines are safe, effective and can prevent other conditions, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is a rare but serious condition that has been associated with COVID-19.
“Giving the vaccine is planning for the future,” said John. “We don’t know what the next wave will be, or how severe, but if we want to get the disease to a level where it is not resulting in thousands of children severely ill and hundreds dying, we need to vaccinate children.”
John’s primary research focuses on malaria, which is one of the leading causes of death in children under five years old worldwide. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, John and his colleagues have launched studies looking at asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 (TACTIC), as well as the development of immunity after being exposed to COVID-19 (DISCOVER).
“Children who are most affected and have a higher risk of death from COVID-19 are children from Black, Hispanic and Native American families,” said John. “They’re also the least vaccinated. We must do better to help these families get access to vaccines, as well as accurate information about vaccines.”
While the CDC currently recommends everyone 5 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine, there are no vaccines available for children 4 years and younger.
“We hope a vaccine for children younger than five will be available soon, but for children over five years old, it’s here now,” said John. “Protect your child. Get them vaccinated.”