Chief medical officer dispels vaccine conspiracies about children

As those age 5 and over are now cleared for the Pfizer vaccine, misinformation is circulating

Five-year-olds, like the girl pictured, are now cleared to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Five-year-olds, like the girl pictured, are now cleared to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

As more people become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, more misinformation or anti-vaccine propaganda continues to circulate. The cycle continues as those age 5 to 11 are now cleared to receive the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

In an interview with the Hudson Reporter, Chief Medical Officer at Hoboken University Medical Center Dr. John Rimmer dispelled some of the most commons myths regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and children.

“The COVID-19 vaccines have really undergone a lot of intensive safety monitoring,” he said. “While it’s always healthy to take pause and evaluate benefits and risks, these compounds are fairly well studied now in both adults and children.”

Rimmer said that while there are adverse side effects to the vaccine, they are extremely are.

“Typical side effects are soreness in the arm,” he said. “That’s the most common. Some people, including children, will experience some fatigue, malaise and headache the next day. That’s the immune system learning about the vaccine.”

Anything worse than that is not very common.

“Symptoms that are more significant, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, fluttering of the heart, then I recommend that they speak to their physician who can help add any potential adverse event to the database,” Rimmer said.

Myocarditis misconceptions

Rimmer said the most feared complication from the vaccine, for both adults and children, is myocarditis.

“That can exist with any vaccine or any viral infection,” he said. “That’s something that they’re watching very closely globally. And I think it deserves to be monitored, but it is still extremely rare.”

Rimmer added that they do take cases of myocarditis seriously, especially if vaccine-related.

“Naturally myocarditis can have profound consequences,” he said. “Most cases of vaccine-induced myocarditis do resolves spontaneously without ill effects. But there are the scattered cases with which patients do have more complicated outcomes.”

However, Rimmer reiterated that serious side effects are extremely rare and that studies have shown the vaccine is safe. He said that more studies on the Moderna vaccine are currently in progress to further understand it.

“As the Moderna trials advance, we’ll be interested to see their data,” Rimmer said. “The vaccines are very similar. There’s some studies going on overseas as well, which I hope our regulatory agencies are taking consideration. This is a global pathogen and we need too cooperate with international partners in order to acquire the best data at the largest scale.”

Other misinformation

Rimmer also addressed myths regarding the COVID-19 vaccines and infertility. He said that data had definitely shown no link between infertility and the vaccines, and called linking the two “fear-mongering and conspiratorial.”

“That data is a lot further downstream now,” he said. “There’s really been no supportive data on the vaccination having any effect on fertility.”

According to Rimmer, the vaccine is even shown to help pregnant women.

“If anything it’s been shown to improve maternal health in the sense of lowering risk of mortality from COVID-19 during the peripartum period,” he said. “The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are recommending it for their patients and for their pregnant patients. I would ask patients to speak to their doctors about those discussions. But my concerns for infertility are infinitesimally small.”

Rimmer said the side effects of getting the virus should be of more immediate concern.

“For patients who are very cautious about the vaccine because they are concerned about fertility, but what about the long-term side effects of acquiring COVID-19?,” he said. “The prevalence of the virus is still significant certainly in some areas. I imagine we’re going to see a little bit of a spike again this winter. That’s a statistical inevitability.”

‘Positives outweigh negatives’

According to Rimmer, the positives of the vaccine outweigh the potential rare side effects.

“From the data, it appears that the benefits of protection from COVID-19 still outweigh the risks of a potential serious adverse effect,” he said.

Rimmer said the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 is to get the vaccine.

“COVID-19 is a preventable death right now,” he said. “To me, the vaccine is like jumping out a plane with a parachute on. It has that type of protection when it comes to preventing severe symptoms, progression to sever symptoms, hospitalization, or death.”

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