Jacksonville doctors offer message to parents still on the fence about COVID-19 vaccine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Local doctors are urging parents still on the fence about the COVID-19 shot to get their kids vaccinated.

Dr. Shalika Katugaha, system director for infectious diseases at Baptist Health, and Dr. Alexandra Beier, a pediatric neurosurgeon with UF Health both made the decision to get their children vaccinated for COVID-19.

“Raaya has been vaccinated as has been Rahul,” Dr. Katugaha said.

Her 12-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son received the vaccine.

“Being a healthcare provider, I’m exposed to covid all the time so the last thing I wanted to do was bring covid into my house and my children not being able to be protected,” Dr. Beier said.

Dr. Beier’s five-year-old just made the cutoff to get the vaccine.

Both these doctors treat young children at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, and they told me despite the FDA delaying authorization of the vaccine for kids under 5, they both want parents to know it’s safe and effective.

In fact, these doctors say studies show getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help prevent another serious complication called MIS-C.

“There is something called MIS-C which is a multi-inflammatory syndrome in children and that can lead to swelling or inflammation of your heart, kidneys, eyes, you know it’s a general inflammatory process which is a significant complication child can get.” Dr. Katugaha said.

Meanwhile, parents like Sarah Garcia told me she’s waiting anxiously to get her three-year-old vaccinated.

“In his school, they have cases all the time. I get e-mails all the time about different kids getting COVID, and I mean he gets the flu vaccine and once it’s past the trial phase I would definitely get him vaccinated as well,” Garcia said.

Dr. Katugaha said if you do have your doubts talk to your doctor.

“Talk to your healthcare provider, talk to your pediatricians because it’s safe and effective,” Dr. Katugaha said.

Wolfson Children’s Health told Action News Jax around 8.7 million kids between the ages of 5 to 11 have been vaccinated with no serious side effects.

The hospital updates its COVID-19 numbers daily As of Monday, February 28, 2022, there are 5 children at Wolfson Children’s Hospital being treated for COVID-19, including 2 in the intensive care unit.

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