August is National Immunization Awareness Month and to commemorate the appointment, he speaks with Dr. Erich Maul, Chief, Division of Hospital Pediatrics, Medical Director, Acute Care and Progressive Care at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, and his 13-year-old daughter Avery, who recently received her COVID-19 vaccination. Hear their stories in this week’s edition of Dr. Greg Davis on Medicine.
Now from the UK:
There is finally light at the end of the long, dark pandemic tunnel. The vaccine was rolled out across the country, starting with frontline health professionals, then the higher-risk population, and then to all adults. People everywhere were lining up for the ‘shot of hope’, bringing the country closer to herd immunity.
But as more and more adults were vaccinated, the virus turned its attention to the next most vulnerable population group: children.
“An increasing number of cases of COVID are seen in children and adolescents,” said Dr. Sean McTigue, medical director for pediatric infection prevention and control at Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH). “A lot of this is due to this population being largely unvaccinated.”
But the effects of the pandemic go beyond the viral disease. Kids and teens struggled with abrupt school year cancellations, team sports, scheduled outings, and even casual meetings with friends. dr. Erich Maul, KCH’s head of pediatrics, recalled how each of his four children struggled with the “new normal.”
“My youngest, Avery, struggled the most,” he said. “She’s my social butterfly and physical distance crushed her mind.”
When the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine’s use in children ages 16 and older, Avery watched as her older siblings were all vaccinated, worried she would have to wait years to go back to school and spend time with friends. play.
“I kept trying to keep her positive by saying, ‘I know the data is there, approval for children under 18 can’t be far off,'” Maul said. “When I mentioned at the dinner table that Pfizer had submitted the data for children ages 12-15, it became an overnight question from a VERY excited 13-year-old lady. I’ve never seen Avery so excited or calmer about taking a picture! She sees this as a stepping stone to sleepovers, Boy Scout camp, vacation and seeing more family again.”
Now that everyone has been vaccinated, the Maul family has planned a busy summer with family visits, road trips and team sports.
“While it’s challenging, they’re making steps to get back to normal,” Maul said. “It’s very easy to get scared, it’s very hard to become ‘fearless’. Getting the vaccine and relying on it is a great way not to get scared.”
Jack Draus, the 13-year-old son of Dr. John Draus, head of pediatric surgery at KCH, received his first dose and is optimistic about what’s next.
“It was hard not seeing my friends and family and not doing the things I usually do,” he said. “After receiving the first dose of the vaccine, I feel like there is now light at the end of the tunnel and I will soon be able to see my grandparents and new nephews.”
Because Jack’s 10-year-old brother is too young to be vaccinated, the Draus family puts off making summer plans. Until his brother’s age group is approved to receive the vaccine, Jack will continue to wear his mask. He has some wise words for parents and children who are hesitant to take the picture.
“I know it may seem scary, but only good can come from getting the vaccine,” he said.
“Last week was a really great week to have the opportunity to have our older two children vaccinated,” said Dr. Scottie B. Day, chief physician at KCH. “My kids do this not just for them, but for their grandparents and the rest of the world. Immunity is a beautiful thing. If you look back at vaccine research that’s been around for many years, it’s all been done to prepare for the “what-if” scenario that has unfolded over the past year. I keep thinking about how different our lives would be today if it weren’t for this research.”
Healthcare providers recognize that parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children. The vaccine is new, but it is based on decades of tested research and is safe and effective. dr. Maul advises parents to talk to their children and see how they feel about getting the vaccine.
“Talk to your pediatrician,” he said. “Do your research using reputable websites such as the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics. This is a public health decision and a human decision that transcends partisan politics.”