The Parental Grilling: Vaccine Edition
Parents of teens might be among the most discerning people around. When their kids ask them to go over to a friend’s house or stream a new video game, they ask a lot of questions. Who will be there? Will their parents be home? What’s it rated? This is the time-honored parental grilling. We faced it, we do it to our children and I’m sure our children will continue the tradition.
As a physician, I would expect no less when parents begin to think about getting their kids vaccinated. Only this time, it’s our job to “take the heat” and answer all of the questions our patients parents have.
Is it safe? The vaccine for COVID-19 is similar to many of the vaccines pediatricians have been providing to children to decades, without any provable negative effects. It was developed and tested in the same way and to the same standard as all of our modern medical technologies, treatments, and medications. You already rely on many of these medical solutions every day.
The COVID-19 vaccines rocketed through each and every complex step in the long and complicated review process thanks to worldwide attention, billions in funding, and lots of willing volunteers. When the disease is so prevalent, it is really easy to 1) sign people up to participate in the trial and 2) determine whether the vaccine worked. Which leads us to your next question…
Is it effective? Yes! The vaccine is 100 percent effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. I understand your disbelief on this one. “Nothing is 100 percent!” In the same way you might be skeptical when your teen tells you that there will be no drinking at the party, you might need to ask a few follow-up questions. I can relate. If you had told me a year ago that we would have a vaccine that was this effective, I wouldn’t have believed you either!
We know the effectiveness of the vaccine thanks to huge trials and rigorous data collection. Did you know that many millions of the first people vaccinated signed up for V-Safe? It’s an app that checks in with vaccine users periodically after their vaccination. It asks them if they have had any side effects and provides an opportunity to report whether or not they have gotten COVID. While a few mild “breakthrough” cases have been reported, they come with little to no symptoms and none of the long-term effects of the disease.
What does it cost? It’s free! If you have insurance, your insurance might be charged, but you won’t be. No copay. No bill. Free. If you do not have insurance, you will not be charged.
Is it fast? I know you’re busy, so you have to know how long this is going to take. When you make an appointment at a vaccine clinic or pharmacy, you can be in and out in 30 minutes. Specialized clinics are the fastest way to get vaccinated, because vaccinating is the sole purpose. You don’t have to wait for patients who need other types of care. Walk-in clinics are popping up to make it even more convenient to get your child vaccinated. Once the vaccine is administered there is a 15 minute observation period and this typically is the longest part of the entire visit.
Is it easy? It is easy. You can register and schedule online at https://vermont.force.com/events/s/selfregistration. Or you can call 802-863-7240 to register and schedule by phone. Or walk in to any advertised walk-in clinic. You tell them your name and date of birth, get a little poke, and wait 15 minutes. You repeat the process in 3-4 weeks, wait 2 weeks, and your child is good to go. They can socialize freely with other vaccinated kids. If enough people get vaccinated, they may be able to go to school without masks on, play sports normally, and do all of the other super fun teenage rites of passage.
There are people working to help eliminate the barriers to getting vaccinated. Whether you have trouble finding a clinic, or a ride, or have some other need, call the SVMC COVID-19 Info Hotline at 802-440-8844. For more questions from real parents, visit the Real Parents, Real Questions article. To ask your question, visit our contact page.
Meghan Gunn, MD, is a pediatrician with SVMC Pediatrics in Bennington, VT.