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Doctors Encouraging Utah Parents To Vaccinate Children

MURRAY, Utah – Children 12 to 15 years old will soon be eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Some doctors, who are also parents, shared their trusted support on social media and encouraged hesitant parents to do their research.

“We really looked at the safety and effectiveness and thought about the risks of COVID going on abated, and we are signing our children up for these vaccines,” said Dr. Mark A. Lewis, a medical oncologist and director of gastrointestinal oncology at Intermountain Healthcare.

His wife, Dr. Stasha Lewis, is a pediatrician with Intermountain Kidscare.

The Lewises were among a number of doctors who let everyone know they planned to sign their kids up for the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible. They also understood that wasn’t an easy decision for everyone.

“I did know, actually, this would be a hot button issue,” said Dr. Mark Lewis.

As healthcare workers, the married doctors were vaccinated several months ago after taking a close look at the vaccines.

“We ourselves, as healthcare workers, looked at the risks and benefits and assessed this was definitely something that we wanted to do and ought to do,” said Lewis.

He recently tweeted that their two kids, age 10 and 13 years old, would get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.

“Short-term data, to me, as a physician, as a husband of a pediatrician and a dad look compelling, so much so that our 13-year-old is probably a couple weeks away now from getting her first shot,” he said.

The 10-year-old will have to wait until he is eligible.

Dr. Lewis said both children were eager to get vaccinated and get back to activities with their friends.

He acknowledged there were skeptics and detractors, and he estimated that 70% of the people who responded to his tweet agreed with him.

While children may not be as hard hit by the virus as older people, they do get sick and transmit the virus.

“Children are not inherently immune, and thus, any reasonable effort to improve their immunity we think is worth embracing,” he said.

Last week, 24% of all new cases nationwide were in children.

“I understand why people are hesitant. I really do,” Dr. Lewis said.

It’s a relatively new disease and the vaccines are new with little long-term data.

“But, it is impossible to have long-term data that we want based on the novelty of both the infection and the vaccines to it. Frankly, it’s pretty remarkable I think, that we have effective vaccines this early,” he said.

So far, the vaccines have proved to be effective and safe.

“Of course, time will tell,” Dr. Lewis said. “But every fiber of my being is telling me that this is the right thing to do for most children.”

They encouraged other parents to make the same decision to protect their kids and because we need vaccinated kids in Utah to reach herd immunity.

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