TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — As COVID vaccines become available for younger children the question becomes will parents get their children immunized? The State of Arizona’s looking to a former U.S. Surgeon General to win over parents.
The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for ages 12 to 17 for about five months. Now it appears to be headed to approval for children as young as five.
The Arizona Department of Health Services says more than 3.6 Million Arizonans aged 12 and up are fully vaccinated. That’s just under 70 percent.
Governor Doug Ducey asked Tucsonan and former U.S. Surgeon General Doctor Richard Carmona to work on getting the unvaccinated to roll up and get the shot. He says convincing parents to get COVID vaccine for their kids is different from convincing them to get the shot for themselves.
Parents see their children get plenty of vaccinations as they grow up but Doctor Carmona says the COVID vaccine is caught up in inaccurate information swirling online that makes parents fearful about that particular vaccine.
“We're looking at what is the message that will help to move them in the right direction, but also recognizing that maybe 10 or 15% of the state may be well entrenched for ideological reasons, and they're just not going to get a vaccine. But if I can get 80 or 85% of the population vaccinated, we're well on the way to herd immunity, especially in children.”
Last month, a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation asked parents of children between 5 and 11 if they will get their children vaccinated as soon as COVID vaccine is approved for that age group.
34 percent said they’d have their children vaccinated right away.
32 percent took a wait and see attitude
7 percent said they’d vaccinate their children only if required.
24 percent said they would definitely not arrange for their children to take the COVID vaccine.
But Doctor Carmona says the risk from the vaccine is far lower than the risk from the virus.
“What's the worst outcome I have with this vaccine? My arm hurts, I don't feel well, it makes me feel crummy for a day. And on the other side, if I don't get it, my child could die. Most kids do well, even if they get COVID. But are you sure your child won't be the one that's going to get a severe disease or be on a ventilator or possibly die? And you don't know. So the risk benefit analysis weighs heavily to get the vaccination.”
And he says with holiday travel and holiday gatherings bringing people close together there’s an extra urgency to get the vaccine.