Hampden County pediatric and public health professionals addressed parents’ hesitancy to vaccinate children against COVID-19

Media Contacts
Sarah Becker

Hampden County, Mass. — In a public forum last night sponsored by the MA Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics, MA Association of Public Health Nurses, and MASSPIRG Education Fund, local experts in pediatric and public health addressed parents’ concerns and discussed safely vaccinating children against COVID-19.

“We want to make sure parents have accurate information and access to trusted health providers as they consider vaccinating their kids against COVID-19,”  said Sarah Becker, Public Health Associate with MASSPIRG.

The forum was held following the recent federal action that made COVID-19 vaccinations available to children ages 5 and up. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization on October 29th for the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, based on data demonstrating the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness among this age group. On November 2nd, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) followed that decision by recommending vaccinations against COVID-19 for all children in that age group. These actions come at a critical time, as the number of COVID-19 cases among children remains extremely high.

To address vaccine hesitancy from parents following the new decision, Dr. Chrystal Wittcopp, MD, Medical Director at Baystate General Pediatrics, Lida Brown, BSN, RN, Public Health Nurse Administrator for the Town of West Springfield, and Angela Kramer, RN, MS, Public Health Nurse for the Ludlow Board of Health, met virtually with Hampden County residents to discuss the vaccines and address parents’ concerns.

“Vaccines help us keep children safe and the COVID-19 vaccine is no different,” said Dr. Wittcopp. “It appears COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and they will help us prevent disease in children and adults. These vaccines are a way for us to continue forward as a society while we live with COVID-19 in our communities.”

“Vaccinating children is about keeping our kids safe,” added Brown. “At one point, over half of our cases were pediatric cases. But these vaccines are safe and effective, and with the variants that we currently have this is the best way to combat COVID-19 and keep our children safe.”

“COVID-19 has no boundaries,” noted Kramer, “and more children are getting the disease because they’re not vaccinated. I’m really excited they’re going to have a vaccine that’s going to be able to protect them.”

Parents should talk to their pediatricians with any questions about vaccinating their children, and can find out where to get COVID-19 vaccines at https://vaxfinder.mass.gov. We’ve posted the recording on our Facebook page, which you can watch here,