Vaccination Destination

July 16.  In a few days, the stores will start promoting "back-to-school" sales.  As we begin compiling our "to do" lists, it's a good idea to also consider vaccinations.

While the pandemic information can be overwhelming, it's helpful to reflect on what we've learned so far.  We all know much more about disease transmission, prevention, and potential treatments.  The advent of Covid vaccines has opened up some questions and understandable pause.  The MA Dept. of Public Health and the Philadelphia Children's Hospital have developed information to help parents address these questions.  A summary is provided here in a Q&A format:

* Why should children get a Covid-19 vaccine?  Like all vaccinations (ie, for whooping cough, measles, etc), the Covid vaccines can help children from getting seriously sick even if they get infected.  The vaccines can help protect family members who may be at increased risk.  Vaccinations help children continue to participate in school, sports, and group activities.

* Are the Covid-19 vaccines safe for children?  DPH states that these vaccines have been undergoing the most comprehensive and intense safety monitoring in US history.  All vaccines go through more testing than any other medication.  The five testing phases include:  small groups then if safe and effective more diverse groups of people.  If the first 2 phases meet standards, then the vaccine is given to tens of thousands of people and testing for effectiveness & safety.  Only then, will the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) examine all of the data and methodology to see if the vaccine works and is safe.  ACIP then makes a recommendation to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  The FDA scrutinizes the data and ACIP recommendations before deciding whether to approve a vaccine.

The vaccine is only approved after all phases have been completed and the independent teams of reviewers are sure that it works and is safe.

* What is an "mRNA" vaccine?  Messenger Ribo Nucleic Acid vaccines teach cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response in the body.  While the current vaccines are relatively new, using mRNA to develop vaccines is not.  mRNA from the vaccines do not enter the cell nucleus (where our genetic material is stored) so it cannot affect our genes.  Vaccine mRNA breaks down and is removed within a few days.

* How does an mRNA vaccine work?  This brief 2 min. animated video shows what happens at the cellular level:  a helpful resource for parents and budding scientists.

We invite you to discuss vaccinations further with your Health Care Provider and to consider further information available at MA Vaxfinder and CDC Covid 19 Vaccine Info.