I’m a Doctor and Mom of Two. Here’s Why I Vaccinated My Young Kids Against COVID.
Nov 23, 2021

By Dr. G. Panisri Rao

Dr Panisri Rao

G. Panisri Rao, MD, MPH, FAAFP, Family Medicine Physician

I’m a family physician and a mother of two. My kids — ages five and seven — are both vaccinated against COVID. Here’s why.

We know that even though children are at lower risk for becoming very ill with COVID compared to adults, they can still be infected. They can still get very sick, and they can still develop short- and long-term complications from COVID and spread the virus to others, including to their friends and family with underlying medical conditions who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID.

We also know that children infected with the virus can develop serious complications, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C. MIS-C can be really dangerous. When kids have MIS-C, parts of their body can start to swell up, including their vital organs like their heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. This can happen weeks after a COVID infection — even in children who never had COVID symptoms or knew they were infected. What we don’t know is why some children develop MIS-C and some don’t.

I’m not saying this to scare anyone. I just want to be clear that while many kids recover fine after getting COVID, some don’t. Even healthy children can get seriously sick, and I didn’t want to take that chance with my kids. 

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So what can we do to protect our five to 11-year-olds, like my five and seven-year-old? We need to get them vaccinated. Vaccinating kids can help protect family members and those in their community who are not able to get vaccinated. Getting our kids vaccinated can keep them in school and enjoying their social gatherings, such as participating in sports and play dates, as well as other group activities. I know my children were super excited to get vaccinated so they can come back to a normal life where they get to play with kids and do their sports.

I know that some families are nervous about vaccinating their kids against COVID. And I get it. It’s OK to have questions. I get them all the time from families just wanting to make the best choice for their families. And when I do, I reassure them that:

  • The vaccine is safer than COVID. Know that the vaccine went through rigorous clinical trials in thousands of kids without any serious safety concerns. Even so, it’s still being closely monitored to make sure it’s safe and works as it should. All the research so far continues to point to the vaccine being much, much safer than getting COVID.
  • The vaccine is a kid-friendly version of the adult vaccine. It uses a lower dose that is safe and effective in young children, and they even use a smaller needle, which I know my kids are very happy about.
  • The vaccine protects more than just them. When we get vaccinated, we don’t just protect ourselves. We help protect others in our community who can’t get vaccinated or whose bodies can’t protect themselves as well as others’ bodies can.

As a mother and a family physician, I believe in vaccinating my children and protecting them from this virus. I want them to be protected, and I want them to protect their community. I hope other families will do the same.

G. Panisri Rao, MD, MPH, FAAFP, is a family medicine physician and mother of two in Maryland. Follow her on Twitter. 

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