NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 begins to spread in the United States, a Nashville pediatrician pleads with parents to read accredited information about the coronavirus vaccine for children to help stamp out misinformation.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, in Davidson County, 18% of kids ages 5 to 11 have at least their first vaccine. That goes up to 58% for kids ages 12 to 15 and drops to 57% for ages 16 to 20.
"We're going to continue to see more variants," said Nashville Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Zachary Hoy. "This [vaccine] can hopefully prevent against the severity of those variants. And so, I try to answer, you know, answer their questions and see if they can help decrease the risk and it helps decrease the risk for other people in schools, teachers, staff at schools, other people they're exposed to holiday exposures, family, older family members."
He said parents often tell him their concerns, citing sources without medical data.
"We find a lot of people may hear something from a neighbor that got sick or something, but they may have had an underlying illness or been on some medication that the parents don't get the whole information and they say, ‘Oh, I heard about this kid in class that had this due to COVID.’ And we don't know if that's necessarily related to COVID," explained Hoy.
He said nowadays he often takes 30 minute meetings with parents just to discuss the vaccine spending majority of the time stamping out misinformation the parent gathered from social media, YouTube, or word of mouth.
Hoy said he encourages parents to read resources from the CDC, the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics and local health departments.
"If you have concerns about it, talk with your child's pediatrician," said Hoy. "They know him or her best, the child, and they will be able to say answer specific questions about their illness, what medications they're on, because that's the biggest question I get from parents is ‘my child has this, this and this, should they get vaccinated?’"