Local family physician addresses common vaccine hesitancy, urges vaccines for ages 12-15

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

On May 13, Wisconsin began offering COVID-19 vaccinations to children ages 12-15. Children can currently only receive the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two different doses.

Ellen Wermuth, MD, MS (Photo: Sauk Prairie Healthcare)

Family Physician Ellen Wermuth M.D. at Sauk Prairie Healthcare’s River Valley Clinic is encouraging residents of all ages to get COVID-19 vaccinated, but especially children because of the potential long-lasting side effects the demographic can experience.

“It’s very exciting that vaccines have been released for 12-15 year olds, it’s one step closer to defeating the virus,” said Wermuth. “It’s helping families return to normal.”

Wermuth said she has encountered vaccine hesitancy for people of all ages, with the main concerns ranging from questions over the amount of time the vaccine has been available and studies to questioning if children could potentially become infertile from receiving the vaccine.

Wermuth stressed that there have been no studies indicating infertility issues in individuals who have been vaccinated and assures patients that studies have returned no safety problems with the Pfizer vaccine.

Parents have also mentioned to Wermuth they are considering not vaccinating their children because they believe the demographic is the least likely to be sick or affected by the virus.

However, Wermuth said while children may not any display COVID-19 symptoms or show minimal symptoms they are very prone to experiencing long-haul symptoms, which include prolonged breathing difficulties and other neurological difficulties.

Children who contract COVID-19 are also much more likely to develop Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS), which causes excessive inflammation of multiple essential organs, such as the brain, heart or kidneys.

Children as young as 9-15 are more likely to develop this syndrome if they contract the virus, said Wermuth.

“They can get really sick,” said Wermuth. “Over 3.8 million children have had COVID-19, and 3,000 have had MIS.)

Wermuth said currently the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are exploring vaccine safety for children younger than 12 years old.

Also on May 13, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated individuals can return to pre-pandemic activities, including small or large indoor and outdoor activities. The CDC also advised that fully vaccinated individuals would not need to test following a virus exposure.

The CDC also released guidance that says fully vaccinated individuals can go without a face mask indoors and outdoors, with the exception of K-12 schools.

To find a vaccine available, visit vaccines.gov/search.