Letters to the Editor: ‘Shocking’ piece on kids and COVID shots stokes hesitancy, pediatricians say

A young person receives a PfizerCOVID-19 shot in Rishon LeZion, Israel, in June.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: Your front-page analysis “It’s harder to justify COVID vaccine for children if pandemic’s end is near” was shocking.

COVID-19 has so far killed close to 700 children in the U.S. By comparison, influenza deaths in children range from 100-200 per year. COVID-19 in children can also have long-term efforts; cause mutlisystem inflammatory syndrome, which has hospitalized hundreds; cause countless lost days of schooling; and promotes spread of the disease to the community.

The logic of the piece is deeply flawed. It considered whether, since the pandemic is waning — only for the moment, since it seems to surge back as long as we keep failing to control it by vaccinating, masking and passing mandates — if we should vaccinate children.


Really? Following such thinking, we should then also stop immunizing kids against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and a host of other dangerous infectious diseases. But if we did that, those diseases would surely surge right back. We’ve already seen that happen in pockets of unvaccinated communities.

The article mentions the heart inflammation (myocarditis) in young men as a potential reason not to vaccinate children, without also mentioning that this inflammation is generally mild, of short duration and easily treatable with ibuprofen and rest.

The piece will only help boost hesitancy and resistance to the vaccine. You have done a disservice to everyone working hard every day to fight this pandemic.

Steve Tarzynski, M.D., Santa Monica

The writer is a pediatrician.


To the editor: It is utterly irresponsible to imply that children ages 5-11 do not necessarily need a COVID-19 vaccine.


Children can get COVID-19 infections. Children can get quite ill, many have and will continue to be hospitalized, and some have and will die. But death is not the only metric.

In my pediatric ear, nose and throat practice, I see patients with “long COVID” quite regularly. I cannot tell them or their families if these life-altering, albeit not life-threatening symptoms will ever abate.

The risks of a COVID-19 infection far outweigh the risks of getting vaccinated, for children as well as adults. The vaccine is new, yes, but so is the pandemic. These vaccines are rapidly rid from the body in a matter of days, so equating the vaccine’s risk of long-term side-effect to the long-term sides of the illness is absurd.

Children deserve to be protected just as much as adults do.

Nina Shapiro, M.D., Los Angeles


To the editor: In the same newspaper you ran two seemingly opposing articles that were not in the Opinion section.

On the front page, a news analysis said, “COVID-19 shots for children are harder to justify as pandemic’s end appears closer.” In the California section, there was an article saying that shots help even though the risks posed by COVID-19 to children is low. That article noted, “The disease has still killed some children and they can spread it to vulnerable groups.”

No wonder some people are still unsure about the vaccines.

Susan Sherman, Covina