How vaccine misinformation leaves US children vulnerable to the Omicron variant of Covid

How vaccine misinformation leaves US children vulnerable to Omicron

Only 27 percent of children between the ages of five and 11 get their first dose in the US. (File)


The Covid-19 pandemic has killed adults in the United States for two years while largely keeping children out of the dire statistics.

But the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has led to documented infections and hospitalizations in children in the country, and anti-vaccination misinformation telling parents the shots are dangerous is growing. increase risk.

The possibility of young people dying from Covid-19 remains low. Vaccination greatly reduces the incidence of severe illness and vaccinated mothers can pass protection to their children, but the delay in getting vaccinated online puts both parents and children at risk. I’m all vulnerable.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital Dr Wassim Ballan said fighting misinformation had become part of his job out of worries that the shots were being developed too quickly and false claims that These injections may affect future fertility.

“Unfortunately, a lot of times when we have time with a family to discuss these things is when the child is already in the hospital,” he said of the matter.

Parents need to understand that vaccines are “the most important tool for protection”, especially to avoid multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare and dangerous complication that can occur after a mild Covid-19 infection. -19.

Only 27 percent of children between the ages of five and 11 get their first dose of the vaccine in the United States. Hospitalizations peaked at 914 children per day this month, up significantly from the previous peak of 342 children in September 2021.

Protection from the womb

The first week of January 2022, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston reported 12 infants in intensive care with Covid-19.

Newborns are too young to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, but Kathryn Gray, a maternal-fetal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says research increasingly shows that vaccination during pregnancy This results in the antibodies being safely transferred to the baby, limiting protection.

Mothers-to-be also showed reluctance to get vaccinated after they were excluded from initial clinical trials.

Gray was among those monitoring the situation. “So far there has been no safety signal” in the data, she said, adding that she was “very confident” when she told patients that the shot was safe during pregnancy for mother and baby.

“If they really want to protect their newborn, vaccination is what will protect them the most at the moment.”

Health authorities around the globe say the same, but the lack of initial data continues to be exploited in anti-vaccination messages on social media. Posts on Facebook and Twitter suggest that stillbirths have increased following a push to vaccinate pregnant women, despite a higher risk of being left unprotected against the disease.

Epidemiologists Carla DeSisto and Sascha Ellington from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say data from 1.2 million births in the US show “no evidence for a stillbirth rate generally higher during the pandemic.”

But their study revealed the risks of contracting the virus during pregnancy.

“Compared with pregnant women who did not take Covid-19, those who became pregnant with Covid-19 were at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes including preterm delivery and stillbirth,” the researchers said by email. save.

“Unvaccinated milk”

Breastfeeding has also been a target of misinformation, with posts claiming that infants developed rashes or even died when breastfed by vaccinated mothers.

The American Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommends vaccination for those who are breastfeeding and says there is no reason to stop breastfeeding after vaccination.

Misinformation is becoming increasingly common in private Facebook groups, where parents connect to share and sell breast milk, group moderators told AFP. At one of the largest such groups, Bethany Bristow said she was concerned by requests for “unvaccinated milk”.

The New York mother, along with other moderators, has decided to ban such requests, and the rules for her group of more than 10,500 parents now state: “Advertising or asking for free milk with vaccines causes you, your children and the community are at risk.”

According to Laura Ward, co-director of the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, studies are finding specific benefits of milk from a vaccinated mother.

“Antibodies have been detected in the breast milk of vaccinated women who are breastfeeding,” she said.

Gray agrees. “Breast milk is full of antibodies based on a person’s previous exposure to both vaccines and infections. Those don’t pose a risk to the infant, they’re really helpful in providing protection,” she said. they”.

“Any concerns or unclear information about a vaccine is downsized by the risk of Covid disease.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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