INDIANAPOLIS — Dr. Dorota Szczepaniak is a general pediatrician with Riley General Pediatrics. She said a lot has changed in the last two weeks when it comes to COVID-19 cases in her patients.
Right now, children 12 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and studies are in progress to determine the efficacy and safety for children younger than 12. Szczepaniak said the process to collect that data is a long one, but the information can’t come soon enough.
“Last winter we hardly had any children positive for COVID-19. Over the last two weeks, it’s almost frightening how many children are positive,” Szczepaniak said.
In the height of past surges, Szczepaniak would maybe have one case of COVID-19 in her young patients a week, but now numbers are increasing significantly.
“From one patient a week six to nine months ago, to two to three patients a day,” she said.
With the rise in more children testing positive for the virus, some parents are hoping the vaccine will be approved for younger children soon. Other parents, however, say they feel uneasy about their kids receiving the vaccine.
“We are not anti-vaccine at all, we believe in tried-and-true systems," Chantelle Edwards, a parent explained. "This one, however, we are cautious."
Edwards has three children between the ages of three and seven. They have all received their standard vaccinations, but Edwards and her husband have decided if the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for younger children, theirs will not be getting the shots.
“We’re just not at a point where we are open to exposing them to this especially at ages where their development is critical,” Edwards said.
She feels there is not enough data to show there will not be complications in the future. It's a concern Dr. Szczepaniak has heard from other parents too.
“A lot of parents site that concern as their main concern. What is going to happen in three, five, ten years from now. And the truth is, I cannot answer that question, and nobody can. Now, we do know that a huge majority of side effects if they were to happen, they happen in first six weeks after vaccine. We also know that what is particular to MNRA vaccines is that they are gone out of our system after a short while after stimulating our immune system, they are gone,” Szczepaniak said.
Both Edwards and her husband are vaccinated against the virus. They mask up with their kids any time they go out in public or to the store. Edwards said this is what is right for her family right now.
“We’re not on board yet. Not to say that we won’t ever be, just not at this stage,” Edwards said.
Szczepaniak said when the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children she will recommend it to her patients.
“So, I always discuss it with my patients parents it’s not a given, yes take the vaccine, we discuss each vaccine separately the risk, benefits and potential side effects. And the same with the COVID vaccine.”