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Boston.com readers are ready to vaccinate their young children

Pfizer plans to seek FDA approval to administer its vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been shown to be safe and highly effective in young children aged 5 to 11 years, the companies announced early Monday morning, Sept. 20, 2021. Allison Zaucha/The New York Times

Millions of Americans, including 4.6 million in Massachusetts, have been vaccinated against the coronavirus since COVID-19 vaccines became widely available last spring but a key group that has been excluded from vaccination has been young children. 

In May, children between ages 12 and 15 became eligible for the vaccine and now it seems parents may soon have the option to vaccinate their younger children. 

Pfizer recently said their vaccine is effective in children ages 5 to 11 and that it plans to seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon. The vaccine has already been approved for children ages 12 and older, and the Centers for Disease Control recommends that “everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19.” 

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We asked parents if they plan to get their young children vaccinated once it becomes available to them, and the majority of the 149 people polled said they would. Sixty-one percent of the people polled said they want their children to be vaccinated while 33% said they’ll be avoiding vaccinating their children and 6% said they were still unsure. 

“Absolutely, it’s a no-brainer,” responded one reader. “They are [vaccinated] for everything else. It should be mandatory so we can all get on with our lives.”

The World Health Organization has said that unless a child is part of a group at higher risk of severe COVID-19, “it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people.” However, cases in children have increased in the United States in recent weeks, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Earlier this month, we asked parents how it felt to start a new school year with their children in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Most parents said they were glad to be getting back to normal, but some expressed concerns over the fact that most school-aged children are still not eligible for vaccination. 

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“I am not pleased with sending my kid to school without vaccination,” said Sushma P., whose child attends school in the Westford School District. She responded to that survey, writing, “I wish the officials waited until kids 5 to 11 got the vaccinations approved.”

Should Pfizer receive FDA approval to administer its vaccine to 5- to 11-year-olds, many parents will have to make the decision of whether or not to get their child vaccinated. For some parents, the vaccine means they can feel safe letting their children get back to their normal activities. Others are more concerned about the potential adverse effects the vaccine could have on their children. 

Ahead, you’ll find some of the reasons readers shared with us about why they will or won’t be vaccinated their 5- to 11- year-old children, should that become an option in the near future.

Do you plan to vaccinate your 5- to 11-year-old(s) when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available?

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Yes, I’ll have my children vaccinated

“Like most parents, I’m worried about my children getting sick with COVID. I know that statistically, they are unlikely to develop a severe case. But it’s still a worry. Plus the delta variant has proven that we’re just one bad mutation away from catastrophe. The more people who are vaccinated, the closer we are to getting rid of this thing.” — Chuck, elementary school-aged children

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“My child can’t wait to be vaccinated. I trust the science and want my child to be protected. Long-term effects of COVID are scary.” — Anonymous

“Every time our 10-year-old gets sick it triggers her asthma and is scary. We always get the flu shot and will vaccinate her and her 7-year-old brother as well.” — Ashley

“I will vaccinate them because while it is unlikely they would become extremely sick if they did or ended up with long-covid, and I could have done something simple (plus safe and effective) to prevent it, I don’t think I could forgive myself.” — Anonymous, children ages 6 and 4

No, I won’t vaccinate my children

“I have no desire to vaccinate my children. Yes, children are contracting the virus at higher rates but the fact remains that across the entire country, very few children have died of COVID-19…I would never be able to live with myself if something happened to my children from the vaccine. I don’t pass judgment on people that have taken an experimental vaccine. That is their choice. I expect the same respect in return.” — Chris, North Andover children ages 4, 6, 8, and 11

“What the U.S. needs to do is mandate testing at school, not vaccines.” — Cyrus Fellows, Concord

“I don’t feel at this time it’s the right choice for my children. Personally, I feel that more testing and investigation as to the side effects needs to occur before I sign on.” — Anonymous

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Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.

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