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No reason for teens to not get COVID-19 vaccine, experts say

What should parents consider when deciding to get

What should parents consider when deciding to get a COVID-19 shot for their kids? Local doctors are here to answer your questions. Panelists include Andrew S. Handel, MD, FAAP Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Stony Brook Children's Hospital; and Lorry G Rubin MD, Director, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Cohen Children’s Medical Center of Northwell Health. Sign up for COVID-19 text alerts at newsday.com/text.

Should your teen get a COVID-19 vaccination?

A panel of experts appearing on the latest NewsdayLive Conversations webinar Wednesday said there was no plausible reason not to.

Speaking on the webinar, titled "Should My Child Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?" Dr. Andrew S. Handel, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, and Dr. Lorry G. Rubin, director, pediatric infectious diseases at Cohen Children's Medical Center-Northwell Health, said despite rumor, suggestion and innuendo making rounds on the internet, studies had found no proof that getting vaccinated posed reproductive or developmental risks for younger patients.

The current eligibility age to receive a vaccination is 16 and older, though in New York 16-17 year olds may only receive the vaccine from Pfizer.

Children younger than 16 are not eligible to receive the vaccine.

"There's not really a plausible reason why the vaccine should affect reproductive health," Rubin said, when asked about scenarios being posed on the internet, adding: "Everything we do in life is managing a risk versus benefit. But the benefits [of getting vaccinated] far outweigh the risks, the known risks and the potential risks."

"What we're seeing in the adult population is that the vaccines are working," Handel said, noting: "The vaccines have been incredibly effective. They really do work."

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And, he said, there's an added benefit for children when it comes to getting vaccinated — a return to normalcy.

"Kids will get to be kids again," he said.

The experts said that while reports early on in the pandemic were that children suffered little from COVID-19, that perhaps they even might have resistance to the coronavirus, more recent findings reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had shown a big post-COVID risk for children called MSI-C — or multisystem inflammatory disease in children.

According to the CDC website, the condition is similar to MSI-A, which affects adults post-COVID, where "different body parts can become inflamed," including: heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and the gastrointestinal tract and organs. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, pink eye and overwhelming tiredness.

Though most children recover from MSI-C, the CDC warned the condition "can be serious, even deadly."

What vaccination does then, the experts said, is reduce the risk.

Rubin compared the importance of getting vaccinated to having your child wear a helmet while bike riding or wearing a seat belt while riding in a car.

The experts agreed it was unclear when children younger than age 16 would become eligible for vaccination.

Both experts said they'd willingly get their own children vaccinated as soon as they're eligible.

"Yes," Handel said, "I would absolutely vaccinate my children. In fact, I would be excited to."

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