Parents, students, teachers, and other stakeholders of CNMI Public School System finally got a chance to ask their questions about COVID-19, pediatric vaccines, and other related topics during a virtual meeting last Tuesday with Dr. Sadie LaPonsie, who. is chair of pediatrics at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
LaPonsie said Wednesday in an email message that having an open dialogue on COVID-19 vaccines for children was the goal of the virtual meeting and that she wanted to provide all necessary resources to parents to aid them in making an informed decision.
LaPonsie added that she wanted to make clear that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and that Pfizer’s vaccine has gone through rigorous testing and review. For those with additional questions and concerns, LaPonsie advised speaking with your health care provider or pediatrician.
“This meeting was a chance for parents to learn more about the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and to ask any question they may have regarding the vaccine. I understand that many parents have concerns when it comes to the safety of their children and vaccines, and I wanted to be available to help them make an informed decision,” said LaPonsie.
LaPonsie touched on several topics during the meeting, including how COVID-19 vaccines work, how health officials have come to know that the pediatric doses of COVID-19 vaccines are safe, whether or not COVID-19 vaccines were rushed, the side effects of the vaccine, myocarditis, and basic information on media literacy in the age of misinformation.
“The main point I wanted to stress is that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It was rigorously tested and reviewed, and more than 11 million adolescents ages 12-17 have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. If parents have questions about how to protect their children from COVID-19, about the vaccines, or about myocarditis, I encourage them to speak to their health care provider or pediatrician”, she added.
According to an online definition from the Mayo Clinic, myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. This inflammation can reduce a heart’s ability to pump blood, and cause rapid or abnormal heart rhythms.
In the context of COVID-19 vaccines for the youth, myocarditis recently became a point of concern as a possible side effect of younger age groups receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Nov. 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that cases of myocarditis were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. The CDC also said that vaccinated individuals, notably adolescent males and young adults, contracted myocarditis after receiving a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, more often after the second dose of either vaccine and usually within several days after vaccination.
The CDC added, however, that “most patients with myocarditis or pericarditis who received care responded well to medicine and rest and felt better quickly” and that “patients can usually return to their normal daily activities after their symptoms improve.”
Should you and/or your child get vaccinated? The CDC still says yes. Now recommending that children aged 5 to 11 receive their pediatric Pfizer vaccines and continuing to recommend individuals aged 12 and older to get their vaccines, the CDC states that “the known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.”
The CDC and its partners continue to monitor reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination, the CDC said. Active monitoring includes “reviewing data and medical records and evaluating the relationship to COVID-19 vaccination”, the CDC added.