ATTLEBORO – Needles scare youngsters, but all was quiet – at least that’s how it started.
Maybe it was the lollipops waiting in the wings that took the children’s attention away from the needle as there was no screaming or crying when the youngest of us went with their mothers and their fathers to get their first coronavirus shot at a clinic sponsored by Sturdy Associates in Pediatrics on Saturday morning.
The clinic was for children 6 months to 5 years old and Dr Owen Debowy, director of Sturdy’s immunization clinics and chair of Sturdy’s pediatrics department, said around 30 youngsters were expected.
This seems to be a good result for the region, especially when some polls indicate that only about one in five parents say they will get their children under 5 vaccinated immediately while other parents will “wait and see”.
Furthermore story on ABC News, only about 1.5%, or 292,500, of the 19.5 million children under age 5 in the United States have received their first vaccine nearly a month after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have approved vaccines for toddlers.
Debowy said part of the hesitation is due to an overload of information parents are trying to digest.
“There is fear,” he says. “Parents want to do what is best for the child. There are a lot of unknowns. It’s a tough call for a parent trying to weigh as much information as possible and find a source they trust.
It wasn’t a tough call for Debowy though.
He has a son who is 4 and a half years old and a daughter who is 1 year old.
“I can personally say that I believe in it so much that they both got their first shots,” he said. “I can say the vaccine is safe.”
Debowy said the purpose of vaccines is to prevent serious disease and coronavirus vaccines do that, he said.
He said children can get very sick from the virus.
According to the state Department of Public Health, seven children under the age of 5 have died from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
As of July 9, there were 90,259 cases among children in this age group since the start of the pandemic, so the seven deaths represent a very small percentage.
But, as Debowy said, many parents don’t want to take the risk and want to do whatever they can to protect their children.
“With any vaccine, the goal is to try to prevent people from getting very sick,” he said. “The risk of someone having serious complications is greatly reduced.”
Just like the death threat.
Currently, the average age of death from coronavirus in Massachusetts is 82, and 91% of all deaths (19,129 of 21,068) occur in people over the age of 60, according to statistics provided by the State DPH.
But young people are being vaccinated, and The Sun Chronicle’s region is ahead of the nation as a whole.
As of July 13, 6.39%, or 647 of 10,113, children under age 5 in the Sun Chronicle 10-community area had received their first vaccine within the first month it was made available to them.
Children who received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine still have two doses to receive.
Those who received the Moderna still have a dose to take.
Jennifer Pickering, a nurse from Cumberland, RI, brought her 3-year-old son, Greyson, for his first injection.
Greyson was happily consuming a lollipop after a hit that didn’t seem serious to him.
Protection against disease and against the spread of disease was Pickering’s primary goal.
“We’re super excited that vaccines are available for the little ones,” she said. “I think it’s important not just to protect yourself, but to protect each other.”
Tess and Mike Kerrigan of North Attleboro brought their two toddlers, Marshall, 3, and Henry, 16 months, to receive their first dose of the vaccine.
“I’m a science teacher,” said Tess Kerrigan. “I believe in medicine.”
She said all four of her family members had had coronavirus and the symptoms were mild, but they decided to add protection.
“We want to protect them and their grandparents,” Tess Kerrigan said.
“I don’t have to worry about us,” she said, referring to herself and her husband. “We are young and healthy.”
Another clinic will be held at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 at Sturdy Pediatric Associates for their patients.
Call 508-236-0100 for more information.
George W Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.