Six Questions about the Kids' COVID Vaccine, Answered by an Infectious Disease Doctor

The author, an infectious disease physician, pictured with his two daughters who are getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Courtesy of Chin-Hong

I enthusiastically support the vaccination against COVID for children aged 5-11 years old. As an infectious disease doctor who took care of hundreds of COVID-19 patients over the past 20 months, I have seen the immediate and long-term consequences of COVID-19 on patients – and on their families. As a father of two daughters, I have lived through the fear and anxiety of protecting my kids at all cost from the scourges of the pandemic and worried constantly about bringing the virus home from work.

It is imperative that we vaccinate as many children in the community as possible. There are several reasons why. First children do get sick from COVID-19. Over the course of the pandemic in the U.S, more than 2 million children aged 5-11 have become infected, more than 8000 have been hospitalized, and more than 100 have died, making COVID one of the top 10 causes of pediatric deaths in this age group over the past year. Children are also susceptible to chronic consequences of COVID such as long COVID and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Most studies demonstrate that 10-30% of children will develop chronic symptoms following COVID-19. These include complaints of brain fog, fatigue, trouble breathing, fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, abdominal pain, mood swings and even psychiatric disorders. Symptoms typically last from 4-8 weeks in children, with some reporting symptoms that persist for many months.

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Peter Chin-Hong
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong is Associate Dean for Regional Campuses and professor of medicine at UCSF School of Medicine. He is a medical educator who specializes in treating infectious diseases, particularly infections that develop in patients who have suppressed immune systems, such as solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients and HIV+ organ transplant recipients. He directs the immunocompromised host infectious diseases program at UCSF. His research focuses on donor derived infections in transplant recipients and molecular diagnostics of infectious diseases in patients with suppressed immune systems. He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University, before completing an internal medicine residency and infectious diseases fellowship at UCSF, where he is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Yearlong Inquiry Program in the School of Medicine. He was the inaugural holder of the Academy of Medical Educators Endowed Chair for Innovation in Teaching.
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Photo credit: LinkedIn

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