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Parents weigh risk, reward of giving COVID-19 vaccine to their children

(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
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Millions of children between 5-12 years-old across the country might soon have access to the COVD-19 vaccine after an FDA advisory panel met on Tuesday to review the efficacy and safety of the Pfizer children’s trial.

But with access comes a big decision for parents: do they let their kids get the shot, or not?

“When my family and friends ask me whether or not to vaccinate, I told all of them your odds are still better if you get the vaccine,” said Brianne Dressen, a mother of a 7- and 9-year-old.

Dressen said she will not vaccinate her children because she is still suffering from side effects she said came on from being a participant in the AstraZeneca vaccine trial a year ago.

“I'm trying to grieve the loss of the life that I had,” Dressen said.

Dressen was diagnosed with vaccine injuries and has been in the hospital doing therapy to rehabilitate from her side effects.

While the AstraZeneca vaccine is not approved in the U.S., researchers who have studied her case at the National Institutes of Health recommended her children not get any COVID-19 vaccine.

Dressen said her children will take the preventative steps of social distancing and wearing masks instead, adding, “I will react to the vaccine regardless of the brand, and so if my kids have this same genetic makeup, there is the high potential now that the same thing could happen to them.”

Dressen’s husband, Brian, who is a PhD, spoke during Tuesday’s FDA hearing testifying that "the clinical trials are not appropriately evaluating the safety data."

“I genuinely do not believe that it's a 'vaccinate or not vaccinate,'" Dressen said. "I do believe it's a case by case basis that we need to be examining.”

Whitney Hopes has two kids who participated in the Moderna children’s vaccine trial.

“I knew that this could give the companies good data to know if this is safe for children,” Hopes said.

She said one of her kids experienced flu-like symptoms, but otherwise they had no issues.

“I would never want to knowingly put my child at risk over something that could take their life when I have a tool that prevent that from happening,” Hopes said.

According to the CDC VAERS reporting system, there have been roughly 2.6 million reports of death or adverse effects after the vaccine was administered here in the U.S. That equates to .006% of the 415 million doses given in the U.S.

There have been roughly 21,000 reports of adverse effects in Utah, which equates to .004% of the 4.3 million doses given.

Like Dressen, Hopes said she thinks parents should educate themselves on the risk-reward ratios.

“I believe that this is a choice, but we have to choose benefits versus risks — we have to weight that,” Hopes said.

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Health experts recommended talking to your trusted physician about what's best for your family.

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