Parents seem cautious about kids’ shots


When it came to being vaccinated to fight the coronavirus pandemic, John and Ela O’Connell, of Long Beach, rolled up their sleeves and took their shots. But when it comes to inoculating their children, they plan to wait. And maybe wait some more.

Their children, Ronan, 3, and Emilia, 7 months, are too young to qualify for shots now being given to those 5 to 11 years old. But even when Ronan and Emilia are old enough, the O’Connors will wait, they said.

“I don’t think there’s enough studies out yet,” Ela O’Connor, an administrator for the New York City Department of Education, said on Sunday at the Starbucks beside City Hall. Her husband is a New York City firefighter who had concerns, but agreed to be vaccinated.

Ela said she would like to see five years of studies before allowing the couple’s children to be vaccinated. She said that a number of people in her office have been vaccinated, yet one co-worker or another tests positive for Covid-19 practically every week.

“I’m fully on board with vaccinations,” she said. “I’m a fan of science, but historically, there’s been issues with vaccines. I want to see years behind them before children are vaccinated.”

On Nov. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The recommendation applies to about 28 million children across the country, but the vaccine has not been easy to get.

Few pharmacies in Long Beach have received it, including those in Stop & Shop and CVS. However, Mount Sinai South Nassau’s “Vaxmobile” was administering vaccines in limited quantities in Kennedy Plaza on Nov. 3.

The recommendations are good news for parents, but aren’t the ultimate deciding factor for all. Shana Meyer, of Island Park, is the mother of an 8-year-old. In Magnolia Park, Meyer said she planned to have her child vaccinated, but not just yet.

“Yes,” Meyer said, but “not right away, though. I’d rather wait and see if there are any side effects I should know about.”

Meyer said she also wanted to wait until the shots are more widely available. She also plans to wait so “those who need them sooner can get them first.”

The rollout hasn’t met people’s expectations in terms of quantity and speed, as happened when adults became eligible. Warren Rosenfeld, chairman of pediatrics at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside, said he hoped more pediatricians would receive and distribute the vaccine soon.

“We saw the same with adults where there’s built-up anticipation and pent-up demand, and now it just isn’t where is needs to be yet,” Rosenfeld said. “The greater hope I have is all pediatricians have it because parents know and trust their child’s doctors.”

Side effects, including impacts on fertility, have been potential issues brought up by parents as reasons to delay their children’s shots. Rosenfeld said the vaccine is safe and doesn’t cause any potentially serious side effects.

“The [vaccine] is studied pretty well and people should recognize this is how most vaccines are,” he said.  “We haven’t seen a significant number of side effects; there haven’t been many at all. This is one of the best-tolerated vaccines.”


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