HomePublicationBurbankTown Hall Answers Concerns About Pediatric Vaccine

Town Hall Answers Concerns About Pediatric Vaccine

First published in the Nov. 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

About a week after U.S. health officials authorized a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 for children 5 to 11, the Burbank Unified School District organized a virtual town hall to inform parents about inoculating the younger population.
Superintendent Matt Hill and district staff welcomed Dr. Janina Morrison — a physician who works with Los Angeles County — to answer questions and alleviate concerns parents may have about vaccinating their children.
As a mother of a 5- and 9-year-old, Morrison admitted she too is “considering the evidence in making the decision about vaccinating kids in this age group” but ultimately recommended the pediatric vaccine because the benefits outweigh the risks.
“The decision for me as a parent is, ‘Is the vaccine riskier or is getting COVID riskier?’ And I feel very comfortable saying that the vaccine is much safer than getting COVID,” Morrison said.
However, many individuals remain hesitant about their children receiving a vaccine they feel was rushed into development and not studied thoroughly.
“[The development of the vaccine] is a common question because we have never been through a pandemic before, and we have never seen what all of the resources our scientists and our government can do to come together to make a vaccine that is safe but still make it quick,” Morrison said.
The doctor assured participants that no steps were skipped in making the vaccine, and one the reasons it was released quicker compared to others is because many families were willing to participate.
“In the past, it [would] take years to enroll enough people in a study who are willing to help us,” Morrison said. “We were able to see quickly that [the vaccine] was effective.”
The study showed Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine — which is one-third of the dose given to those 12 and older — was nearly 91% effective and had no serious adverse events. The most common side effects were pain in the arm and fatigue.
In the past year, 94 children among the 5-to-11 age group died of COVID-19, and one of those cases was in L.A. County. Though it may seem like a small number, Morrison said the disease was in the top 10 causes of death among children.
“It is definitely considered a serious risk for children,” Morrison said, noting that one of the risks that come with the coronavirus is a condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). There were 5,217 cases of MIS-C reported between Feb. 19, 2020 and Sept. 23, 2021, and 44% of them occurred in children 5 to 11.
“This is quite a serious condition and could have a long standing effect,” said Morrison, who added that 50% of children hospitalized because of MIS-C did not have underlying health conditions.
“For me as a mom, would I prevent my kid from having to stay in the hospital by getting this vaccine? And for me, I absolutely would,” said Morrison, who added that one-third of children hospitalized with COVID did not have preexisting conditions.
Inoculation can also help keep schools open and safe, improving the chances of health officials removing the indoor mask mandate.
“I think there’s a very good chance if we could get all of our kids vaccinated and all of our staff vaccinated, it will be safe to be inside without masks,” Morrison said. “Is it going to happen right away? No.
“During the summer [when the state lifted restrictions], we were hoping we had enough people vaccinated and then the Delta variant came, so we sort of had to take a step back.”
In an effort to keep moving forward, the Burbank school district hosted a clinic on Friday at John Muir Middle School to administer the vaccine to 5- to 11-year-olds and will have another at Dolores Huerta Middle School on Friday, Nov. 19, at 3:30 p.m. Appointments for the pediatric vaccine filled up quickly and are no longer available, but the district is working to have more clinics. The BUSD will also have a clinic for students 12 and older and faculty to administer vaccines and boosters at John Burroughs High on Monday, Nov. 15, at 11 a.m. Another clinic will be held at Burbank High on Friday, Nov. 19, at 11 a.m.
Hill reiterated to parents that there is no vaccine requirement from the district in place at this time but added that all schools will have to comply with the state’s mandate, which will likely go into effect next school year.
“It’s important for all of us to do our research, talk to our medical provider and make the decision that’s best for our students right now,” Hill said during the meeting. “And based on the information, we can see the vaccine is very safe. We know the dangers of COVID, but we have to do our own analysis as parents and make that decision right now ahead of any mandate.”
For more information about the clinics or to watch the virtual town hall, visit burbankusd.org.


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