With the COVID-19 vaccine now authorized for children ages 5-11, millions of parents across the country are now deciding whether to get their young ones vaccinated.
Although COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have declined since their most recent peak, public health experts and physicians are strongly encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
“It’s completely normal to feel apprehension about giving your kids a vaccine they haven’t received before, especially with all the misinformation out there on social media and online,” says Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health. “If you’re uncertain, I’d encourage you to look at the science, which clearly demonstrates the lifesaving benefits of vaccination, and talk to your pediatrician or family medicine provider for factual advice.”
Here are four key reasons to get your children vaccinated against COVID-19:
Children can get seriously ill from COVID-19.
Although children are at less risk than adults from COVID-19, they can suffer serious complications if infected, Dr. Harmon says.
As of Oct. 21, there had been nearly 6.3 million children infected with COVID-19 and thousands of children hospitalized, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
One of the more serious complications among children is a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C. Most commonly diagnosed among children ages 1-14 years old, MIS-C can cause inflammation in certain parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal organs. The exact cause is under investigation, but many children with MIS-C have had the virus that causes COVID-19 or been around someone with the illness.
Vaccination protects everyone.
Another major benefit of vaccination is that vaccinated children are less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others, including family members who may be more likely to suffer from serious – and potentially life-threatening – complications from the virus.
Plus, by having your child vaccinated, you can help protect the health of the community. Even if a child doesn’t experience symptoms from a COVID-19 infection, each infection provides an opportunity for the virus to mutate and create a new and potentially more dangerous variant.
The vaccine is safe - and effective.
Data show the COVID-19 vaccine is both safe and extremely effective.
A study involving about 2,500 children ages 5-11 found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to prevent more than 90 percent of infections.
The most common temporary symptoms after vaccination were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, fever, joint pain and chills.
Some parents may have heard about a risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) associated with the vaccine.
It’s important to understand this side effect is rare and generally mild, Dr. Harmon says. Most people who have experienced the condition have responded well to medicine and rest and felt better quickly.
Plus, the rate of myocarditis is higher among people who become ill with COVID-19 than those who receive the vaccine, meaning it’s safer to get the vaccine than become ill through infection.
Vaccination is quick and easy.
At Tidelands Health, it’s easy for people 5 and older to receive the vaccine.
Eligible individuals can simply walk in to one of the health system’s regional vaccination sites during regular operating hours. For more information, click here.
In addition, the health system is hosting special after-hours walk-in vaccination events for families in November and December where eligible children and adults can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, including the third dose and booster dose for eligible individuals.
Each of the following events will be held at Tidelands Health Medical Park at Holmestown Road, 4320 Holmestown Road in Myrtle Beach:
• Thursday, Nov. 11, 4:30-6 p.m.
• Thursday, Nov. 18, 4:30-6 p.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 2, 4:30-6 p.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 9, 4:30-6 p.m.
Dr. Gerald Harmon
Vice President of Medical Affairs and Family Medicine Physician
Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.Learn More
Medical University of South Carolina
U.S. Air Force Regional Hospital
American Board of Family Medicine
Meet the Expert
Dr. Gerald Harmon
Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.