“If I had a magic wand, I’d take it all away,” I said to my then 7-year-old as he cried while logging into his virtual second grade classroom last year. It’s true. If I had a magic wand, one of the first things I’d do would be to end this pandemic for good, reunite families, and give my kids the childhood they so deserve.
I don’t have a magic wand, and when I stop to think about all that COVID-19 has stolen from my family, it makes me weep. My mother died from a long-term illness in November 2020, and my last days with her were spent alone in an intensive care unit, double masked and in full PPE. My children never got to say goodbye to her. Her funeral was small and livestreamed to family. There was no celebration of life or luncheon afterward. Our grief was lonely.
I miscarried our last baby in February 2021. Miscarriage is painful no matter the situation, but COVID stole my support system from me. My best friend couldn’t fly in and hold me while I cried. Our family couldn’t visit or come and care for our children while we grieved. I lost a baby, and my grief was lonely. Again. Because of COVID.
When I was finally eligible to receive my vaccine, I did so eagerly. I walked into the Hynes Convention Center in Boston on the day of my appointment and cried happy tears. If COVID hadn’t ever happened, I would have walked through the same loss and same grief, but with support. It would have been different.
It’s now January 2022, and we’re still on the hamster wheel. I still don’t have a magic wand, but I do have a COVID vaccine and booster, and with that, I feel powerful. I know every person’s story is different, and the decision to vaccinate your family is one that is met with many questions. I am honored to partner with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to share facts about the COVID vaccines so that you can make the best choice for your family.
Just the facts on COVID-19 and vaccines
Safety is a top priority. Millions of people have safely received COVID vaccines under the most rigorous safety monitoring in U.S. history. COVID vaccines are the most closely monitored vaccines in U.S. history and are being monitored just as closely in children.
Vaccines work. COVID vaccines help prevent severe illness and death from COVID.
Almost 8 million Americans under 18 have gotten COVID. Since August, hospitalization rates for children with COVID have reached record highs.
But great news! Everyone in the U.S. age 5 or older is now eligible to get vaccinated.
Your children ages 5 and older can get the same safe, effective protection from COVID that hundreds of millions of American adults have received. While it’s rare for children to become seriously ill from COVID, it is possible. Coupled with the fact that experts aren’t sure what the long-term impacts of COVID infection are, it’s clear that protection measures should be taken.
Because of this, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend all children 5 and older get a COVID vaccine as soon as possible. COVID vaccines are given to children ages 5-11 in a smaller dose that has been tailored for younger children.
What about side effects?
In clinical trials, children had the same kinds of temporary side effects from COVID vaccines that adults have. One day of discomfort sure beats several days out of school or, worse, hospitalization!
Where can I find a vaccine for my child?
Vaccinations are easily accessible. Check with your child’s school or health care provider to see if they are offering vaccination clinics, as many are!
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect our families and make life safer for everyone.
Getting vaccinated will ensure that the daughter spending her last days with her mother isn’t doing so alone, she’s there with her husband and her sister. Getting vaccinated will ensure that the woman who loses her very last baby isn’t crying on the bathroom floor without her best friend. Getting vaccinated means safely seeing your elderly grandparents and sick friends and ensuring that COVID becomes a thing of the past.
We Can Do This, even without a magic wand.
For more information or to find vaccines near you, visit vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX), or call 1-800-232-0233.