3 Science-Based Reasons Why Many Parents Won't Vaccinate Their Children Against COVID
In an attempt to help those who are having a hard time understanding the perspective of parents who don't want to vaccinate their child, I want to discuss three reasons why parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children. All of which are backed by science, perhaps science many are not hearing about. The vaccine hesitant are still making up a large minority of people in multiple countries.
Right now, governments and health organizations are consistently citing science that supports the measures being taken to combat COVID, while ignoring the science that calls these measures into question and provides a very different picture.
The Risk of Dying From COVID
Firstly it's important to understand what risk COVID poses to children.
If infected with COVID-19, children ages 0-9 have on average a chance of 0.1% or 1/1000 of being hospitalized and, for ages 11-19 a 0.2% or 1/500 chance of being admitted to the hospital (Herrera-Esposito, 2021). This is based on seroprevalence data from eight locations around the world: England; France; Ireland; Netherlands; Spain; Atlanta, USA; New York, USA; Geneva, Switzerland. The infection fatality rate for 0–9-year-olds is estimated to be less than 1 in 200,000 (less than 5 in 1 million) and 1 in 55,000 for 10–19 year-olds.
As far as the the chances of being infected go, at the beginning of the vaccine rollout, government health authorities, big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, and mainstream media were beaming out the the idea that the vaccines showed 95 percent efficacy when it comes to reducing your risk of contracting symptomatic COVID. This was the “Relative Risk Reduction.” What was not conveyed to people during this time was the “Absolute Risk Reduction”, also referred to as “risk difference.” This was less than one percent.
An article published in the British Medical Journal also explains,
Relative risk measures do not take into account the individuals’ risk of achieving the intended outcome without the intervention. Therefore, they do not give a true reflection of how much benefit the individual would derive from the intervention, as they cannot discriminate between small and large treatment effects. They usually tend to overestimate the benefits of an intervention and, for this reason, drug companies and the popular media love relative risk measures! Absolute risk measures overcome these drawbacks because they reflect the baseline risk and are better at discriminating between small and large treatment effects.
You can read more about this in more detail, here.
As of May 28, 2021, there have been 259,308 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Canadians 19 years and under. Of these, 0.48% were hospitalized, 0.06% were admitted to ICU, and 0.004% died .For children, seasonal influenza is associated with more severe illness than COVID-19.
According to a recent study by Stanford academics, if a child is infected with COVID, they have a nearly 100 percent survival rate.
This has been a common theme throughout the pandemic. Jonas F Ludvigsson a paediatrician at Örebro University Hospital and professor of clinical epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute has published research showing that out of nearly 2 million school children, zero died from COVID despite no lockdowns, no school closings, and no mask mandates during the first wave of the pandemic.
In the USA, UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and South Korea, deaths from COVID-19 in children remained rare up to February 2021 (ie, up to the time the study had available data about), at 0.17 per 100 000 population.
In a pre-COVID-19 vaccine cohort of 1391 children, 171 (12.3%) were confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2 infection and treated at the Wuhan Children’s Hospital from Jan 28 – Feb 26, 2020 (Note this is the only center assigned by the central government for treating infected children under 16 years of age in Wuhan) Median age was 6.7 years. 3 patients required intensive care and invasive mechanical ventilation – all had coexisting conditions. 1 patient died, a 10-month-old with intussusception and multi-organ failure.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also confirmed that while the Delta variant is infecting more children, it is not causing increased disease severity. They also found that 0.1-1.9% of their child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalizations, and 0.00-0.03% of all child covid-19 case resulted in death.
While many studies suggest pre-symptomatic/asymptomatic spread may comprise > 40% of vertical transmission, numerous large observational population studies show that children are POOR COVID-19 spreaders. This includes studies from Ireland, Iceland, Italy, France, and Australia. For a link to a more complete reference list, see Washington University Pediatric & Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium.
Vaccine Safety Concerns
The long-term risks of the novel COVID-19 vaccines on a population of millions of children are at the moment unknown, given that the clinical trials involved a few thousands of subjects over a few months period. Pfizer BioTech study included 2,260 children and adolescents, 12-15 years of age, 1,131 of whom received the vaccine.
This is a very small number of adolescents and does not permit an evaluation of rare but serious side-effects, such as effects that may happen in only 1:5,000 adolescents. Furthermore, with most of the adolescents followed for only 1 or 2 months after their 2nd dose, there is no data to support long-term safety.
A recent study out of the University of California shows that the risk of myocarditis is greater as a result of the vaccine than the risk of being hospitalized for COVID for boys ages 12-15.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium). The inflammation can reduce your heart’s ability to pump blood. Myocarditis typically goes away without complications, but in some cases it can permanently damage your heart muscle and even lead to death.
There have been multiple reports of death from myocarditis following COVID vaccination, including a 13-year-old Michigan boy who died June 16, three days after he received his second dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. Preliminary autopsy results indicated that following his vaccination his heart become enlarged and was surrounded by fluid.
It's important to do a proper risk/benefit calculation which appropriately compares this risk from the vaccine, in young people, to the risk of COVID. It is also appropriate to consider that there may be a number of cases that have gone unreported.
An article published by Wesley Pegden, an Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University explains,
On June 23, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) at the CDC met to discuss ongoing reports of myocarditis in young people, particularly young men, after the 2nd dose of mRNA vaccines. In light of these recent reports, the committee was charged with weighing potential harms and benefits associated with 2nd doses of mRNA vaccines. Despite the importance and gravity of the topic, and the high level at which this discussion was taking place, the presentation given to the committee for the purpose of weighing those harms and benefits was fundamentally flawed.
The CDC and FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS) is the United States' reporting system that monitors the safety of vaccines after they are authorized or licensed for use by the FDA”. It is a self-reporting system that does not prove causality but rather is designed to help identify adverse events signals (i.e., COVID-19 vaccine thrombotic events and myocarditis).
The CDC explains, “VAERS scientists look for unusually high numbers of reports of an adverse event after a particular vaccine or a new pattern of adverse events.”
As of today, in the United States there have been approximately 750,000 adverse events reported after COVID vaccination, this includes approximately 16,000 deaths and 20,000 permanent disabilities and approximately 90,000 emergency room visits after vaccination. You can also specify injuries by age by narrowing the search criteria.
While you would certainly expect a spike in the reports submitted during a pandemic where we are using an experimental vaccine technology, it is also true that adverse events reported in VAERS are historically vastly underreported. In the 2009 Harvard Pilgrim Health Care study assessing the VAERS, “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported”
Eric T. Payne, MD, MPH, FRCP(C), Pediatric Neurocritical Care & Epilepsy, Alberta Children’s Hospital
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics & Neurology, the University of Calgary.
Adverse reactions to drugs and pharmaceutical products have always been significantly underreported, and efforts to solve this problem and put an adequate vaccine adverse events reporting system in place don't seem to be a priority.
The UK’s vaccine advisory board refused to approve mRNA vaccines for healthy 12-to 15-year-olds. Despite this, the government overruled this and is telling teenagers they can circumvent their parents. How many of our teenagers are actually making an uncoerced informed decision? Do they really understand their risk-benefit analysis?
The Science of Natural Immunity
A recent Nature paper showed that 17 years after the 2003 SARS outbreak, long-lasting memory T cells were still present to the nucleocapsid (n protein) in those infected with SARS-CoV, AND these T-cells displayed a robust cross-reactivity to the N protein of SARS-CoV-2.
A very recent large observational Israeli study compared SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine induced immunity during a period when Delta was dominant. “After adjusting for comorbidities, we found a 27.02-fold risk (95% CI: 12.7-57.5) for symptomatic breakthrough infection as opposed to symptomatic re-infection.
Extremely low reinfection rates have been observed since pandemic onset. For instance, “with a total of 835,792 Israelis known to have recovered from the virus, the 72 instances of reinfection amount to 0.0086% of people who were already infected with COVID.
An article written by Dr. Tamara Bhadari, a senior science writer from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, recently published an article explaining that even a mild COVID-19 infection induces lasting antibody protection that can last a lifetime.
An analysis of millions of coronavirus test results in Denmark found that people who had prior infection, were still protected 6 months after the initial infection. Another study also found that individuals who recovered from the coronavirus developed “robust” levels of B cells and T cells (necessary for fighting off the virus) and “these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time.”
A study published in March 2021 suggests that the majority of healthy adults in British Columbia, Canada, have immunity from COVID-19 despite the fact that some of them have never been infected with it. This is one of multiple studies suggesting that infection from previous coronaviruses, like the common “flu” for example, may provide some protection from variants.