Here’s what led us to decide to get our 22-month-old son vaccinated

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We are parents of a young child. We also work in public health. Like many working parents, we spend a lot of time balancing our professional and personal responsibilities.

But at this moment of the pandemic, our goals as parents, an epidemiologist and a public health director aligned.

Last Friday, we took our son Nico to the Chatham County Public Health Department’s clinic in Siler City to get his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

We had hoped for this moment for over a year, waiting eagerly as older age groups became eligible to get vaccinated. That said, as children under 5 were on the verge of joining them, we wanted to be sure we were making the right decision. After all, like all parents, the well-being of our child comes before everything else. So, we did what we usually do: We looked to the data to make the best decision for our family.

And what do the data show? First, and most importantly, the vaccines are safe for children Nico’s age, as they are for older children and adults. Second, the vaccine adds protection against COVID-19. And while children are typically at lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than adults, they are not at no risk. Children under 5 who get COVID-19 occasionally have severe outcomes or develop long-term effects of infection. So, why not give Nico’s immune system some help for when he is exposed to the virus?

Moreover, we are eager to avoid the disruption that a potentially severe, infectious, illness in a toddler can cause. Nico doesn’t exist in a vacuum, if he gets sick, we worry about passing that infection along to grandparents or other vulnerable adults.

Other than scheduling around naptime and work commitments, getting Nico vaccinated was a breeze. We arrived at the clinic a little after noon, filled out a one-sheet form, changed a diaper, and, within 5 minutes or so, Nico had the first dose of the Moderna vaccine in his thigh. After the 15-minute monitoring period, we were on our way. Like all shots Nice has gotten in his life so far, tears were shed. But that was nothing a cup of ice cream couldn’t fix.

As far as side effects go, so far so good. Nico took his nap and woke up ready to see his Uncle Jeff, who came to town for a weekend visit. And while side effects, though typically mild, can vary from one person to the next, we have not noticed anything out of the ordinary in the 72 hours since his shot.

We know many parents are trying to decide whether to get their children vaccinated. We hope sharing our story may help some decide to move forward. While there is no silver bullet against COVID-19, a vaccination is one additional layer of protection that we are excited our son will have.

And when you are ready to move forward, know that the Chatham County Public Health Department will be happy to serve you at our Siler City clinic.

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