The Verify team is hearing from parents who are concerned about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for kids.
There are messages circulating that suggest the shot can have lasting effects on a child’s health and immune system. We took some of those claims to Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Claim: The vaccine causes damage in children to the brain and nervous system, heart and blood vessels and reproductive system.
“There's no evidence that this vaccine is any more harmful than any other vaccine to children," Adalja said. "There has been a signal in older children in their teen years from myocarditis, or an inflammation of the heart, which seems to be transient and treatable, and not a very serious complication based on the data that we're seeing. But overall, this is a vaccine that appears extremely safe in the pediatric population.”
Claim: The vaccine can trigger irreversible changes to a child's immune system.
“Every vaccine changes your immune system, that's actually how they work," Adalja said. "They expose your immune system to a target that they can then attack. And that change is a good change. We want our immune systems to be able to recognize viruses and bacteria that we have to fight against. There is no damage to the immune system caused by vaccines. However, it's actually a benefit to the immune system that the vaccine causes.”
Claim: The technology used in the COVID-19 vaccines takes at least five years of research to be considered adequately tested. Therefore, this vaccine is just an experiment.
Adalja said, “This vaccine is not just an experiment. This vaccine is a life-saving tool to combat the pandemic. There's no set time for research to have occurred to be able to say something is experimental or non-experimental. The fact is, I wish this vaccine was developed in even a shorter period of time because it would have saved more lives.”
Claim: When it comes to vaccinating your child, the benefits outweigh the risks.
Adalja said, “When we look at all of the data on COVID-19 in children, as well as all the safety data on the COVID-19 vaccine, the risk-benefit ratio strongly favors the vaccine in all age groups, including children.”