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Updated COVID booster shots: What parents need to know

Doctors, experts provide insight to help parents make decisions on kids' vaccinations
Posted at 8:24 AM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 08:24:59-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Many parents can relate to West Palm Beach mother of three Erika Camargo when she talks about illness in her home.

"The thing is, if one gets sick, they all get sick," Camargo said.

Erika said she and her husband came down with mild cases of COVID over the summer, and her two older children soon followed with showing symptoms of the virus.

"The middle child was like - I don't smell anything. That's how I knew," Camargo said.

Her children are not vaccinated against COVID.

"The didn't get really sick, so they don't really need it," Camargo said.

Doctors WPTV spoke with said uptake for the COVID vaccine has been slow since its initial authorization because many parents have similar reasoning to Camargo and don't feel the risk of their children getting severely sick warrants a vaccine.

The latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows about 3% of children in the U.S. have completed their primary series to be vaccinated against COVID. That number increases for older age groups but only to about 30% for five to eleven year old children.

"Parents aren't really running out to get vaccines anymore," Dr. Lynda Bideau, a longtime pediatrician in Palm Beach County, said.

Dr. Bideau talked about the updated COVID booster, the bivalent, which is supposed to protect against original COVID strains and Omicron variants.

"Very few are getting boosted," Bideau said about the updated COVID vaccine.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Larry Bush described the reasoning for the low uptake of the bivalent.

"If you ask me - Will this prevent my child from getting COVID. No. What about transmitting it? The answer is no," Dr. Bush said.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend children six months and older get the primary series for the COVID vaccine and the bivalent booster shot. It's important to talk to your doctor, which Camargo said carries weight.

"If they tell me they needed it, maybe yeah," she said.

Dr. Bideau advises parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID with the primary series, but not the booster shot if a parent expresses hesitancy.

"Right now, I'm saying let's wait because the numbers aren't high," Dr. Bideau said. "I tell my parents, let's watch the numbers. When we start seeing COVID going back up, and it's in the community and if we're seeing more hospitalizations or deaths, we should get the booster."