PAEDIATRICIAN Alicia Williams is urging parents hesitant about giving their children the COVID-19 jab to reach out to vaccination teams, including the family doctor.
The difference, even if children had recovered from COVID-19, was telling.
Dr Williams, who is part of the Grampians Public Health Unit, in Ballarat, said uptake for junior jabs locally was strong, clear above the Victorian average, and this was largely led by willing and keen parents.
Dr Williams said even if children experienced mild or no symptoms should they get COVID-19, they were still at risk for serious illness if they remained unvaccinated - all children, once recovered and out of isolation, are recommended to get the full course of the vaccine.
"We've had parents question whether it is needed if they think their child has good immunity and it's a difficult balance for parents to make," Dr Williams said.
"When a child is vaccinated, results have shown the vaccine is 90 per cent effective for reducing symptoms in kids of this age group - this was for Delta (variant)...Death is very, very rare in children but vaccines will reduce serious complications. Vaccine will reduce the risk children will end up in hospital."
Dr Williams said one serious COVID-19 complication to emerge in children, often a month or so post-infection, was a multi-system inflammatory response. She said data showed this occurred in about one in 3000 children who have experienced COVID-19.
Dr Williams said it was understandable parents were particularly cautious when it came to their children, but the COVID-19 vaccine was an important part of broader protection.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"The first thing parents are concerned about is really around safety. We know from all the research the vaccine is safe and well-studied," Dr Williams said. "The most children can expect is, like adults, a sore arm or headache or chills.
"Parents have heard of the slight risk for myocarditis (a heart inflammation) for some teenagers but in the five to 11s this has been studied carefully and is in very, very low numbers."
Children aged five to 11 can receive a smaller Pfizer dose from the city's vaccine centres, pharmacies and general practices. A smaller Moderna dose is also now available from some pharmacies and GPs.
Both vaccines use mRNA technology and Dr Williams wanted to allay parent's concerns, stemming from misinformation, about genetics. She said the technology had been long in existence and any genetic coding used in the vaccine was destroyed by a person's body.
Harder to measure were the great indirect benefits in receiving the vaccine, such as children reducing the chance of COVID-19 transmission among loved ones, schools and the community. She said this in turn allowed children to get back to doing what they love most and to socialise more.
Parents can also look online to the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne for further advice: rch.org.au/ccch/covid-19.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.