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Steve Love: Get Vaccinated for Those Who Can’t

"People have the right to choose to get vaccinated for COVID-19. However, children under 12 years of age don’t have a choice."
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Photography by Juan Moyano
Steve Love
Steve Love (Courtesy: DFW Hospital Council)

Mr. Fred Rogers once said, “Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.“ A wonderful statement, and it’s very true today.

People have the right to choose to get vaccinated for COVID-19. However, children under 12 years of age don’t have a choice. They cannot be vaccinated. And so, we have children who can become infected but cannot receive the shot. Sound familiar?

Of course it does, because many grandparents get a booster vaccine shot for DTaP to protect their newborn grandchildren. They do not hesitate because newborns must wait until the vaccines can be administered at an older age. This is an example of a family forming a protective cocoon around newborns. This “Cocoon Vaccination Strategy” protects vulnerable individuals from infectious disease by vaccinating those in close contact with them.

COVID-19 has been devastating to the entire world. In the U.S., it has created multiple surges, especially with the new variants. Thankfully, vaccines have been developed and distributed throughout the U.S. Two of these vaccines use a process involving messenger RNA which has been in existence since 2008, with the safety and testing known for over 13 years.

It’s amazing that the COVID-19 vaccines have been so effective against this dangerous virus. Previous studies involving messenger RNA have included the likes of influenza, Zika and rabies. So, it’s use has been time-tested, to say the least. Frankly, we should all be thankful this process has been so quickly adapted for use against COVID-19.

While medical experts state that the risks and benefits of obtaining the vaccine should always be carefully examined, they also state that the benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the risks. Many unvaccinated residents say they want more time to evaluate the vaccines. To date, more than 350 million doses have been given in the U.S. with the data fully supporting vaccine safety. How much more evidence do you need?

Many residents are “vaccine hesitant” because they would like to take their chances with infection to develop natural antibodies. This is extremely dangerous to not just you, but your entire family. I’m old enough to remember when I had chickenpox, parents would let us play with uninfected kids so they could become infected and recover. I do not recommend this practice with COVID-19. Many young people have not even heard of chickenpox because we have a vaccine. Wouldn’t it be great to say because of vaccines, there is no more COVID-19! Perhaps one day.

If you are vaccine hesitant but considering the COVID-19 vaccine, do your part to build an effective cocoon around our vulnerable children. Let’s follow Mr. Rogers’ advice and be a hero by helping our young residents. Getting the vaccine will do exactly that.

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