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Some west Ky. parents hesitating to vaccinate kids for COVID-19

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Lisa Ferdinando
Wikimedia Commons
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use against COVID-19 in children ages 5 to 11 in late October, 211 children (or about 8% of the county’s population in that age range) in Calloway County have received their first dose.

Some parents say they won’t get their children vaccinated for various reasons.

Charlie and Stacy Enochs — 32 and 28, respectively — are the parents of five young children. They said they wouldn't get their children vaccinated due to concerns regarding the efficacy and necessity of the vaccine. Their children attend school in Warren County, where Stacy Enochs said most students either have been or plan to get vaccinated.

Stacy said she received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to protect her parents, whereas Charlie received only one dose. He questions the efficacy of the vaccine because neither he nor his children contracted COVID-19 when Stacy came down with the virus earlier this year — despite their close proximity to her and his asthma.

“I was around people that had COVID, and I didn’t get it. She was around people that had COVID, and she got it,” Charlie said. “I think, if [children] get the vaccine, they’ll catch it quicker and easier. She felt horrible. I tested the same day — nothing.”

In its October press release, the FDA stated an independent advisory committee of experts “overwhelmingly voted in favor” of expanding Pfizer vaccine eligibility to children ages 5 to 11 because of its effectiveness and safety.

Josh Philips, 26, is the father of an infant daughter. Philips, who is unvaccinated, said he is not comfortable with children ages 5 to 11 getting vaccinated against COVID-19 until the Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved for that age group, though he acknowledged that school districts often must keep up with modern vaccines.

The percentage of individuals who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by age group.
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
The percentage of individuals who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by age group.

“If I was to go and get [a COVID-19 vaccine] today, if I got into an accident at work, under life insurance policies, I could not actually get the insurance policy because it’s an experimental drug in my system,” Philips said. “If something ever happened to me, I want to make sure that they don’t use a loophole to where she’s not provided for.”

Insurers do not deny policyholders of their life insurance for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the American Council of Life Insurers. This concern most likely stems from a now-deleted Instagram post stating a “friend’s aunt” was denied her life insurance because she had received the vaccine, as well as beliefs that COVID-19 vaccines are experimental.

Patricia Stevens, Philips’ child’s grandmother, is vaccinated. She said she is just as concerned about the long-term effects of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines on young children as she was for adults, noting everyone has a unique medical history.

Shane and Pam Paschall — 52 and 51— said they support the expansion of Pfizer vaccine eligibility to children ages 5 to 11 because of Pam’s experiences administering preventative medical care as a retired school nurse. The Paschalls said they and their 18-year-old daughter all received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“At first, you’re always hesitant on things that you’re not familiar with, but I can say I believe in science, so I believe in vaccines,” Pam said. “ I encourage everyone to make their own decision. I’m not one that’s going to push something on someone, but they need to read and research.”

Carolyn Caldwell, 72, also said she supports the expanded vaccine eligibility and has been vaccinated herself, adding “everybody on earth(should be vaccinated) to stop this.” She said she would advise the parents of her grandchildren to get them vaccinated.

“(COVID-19) has been devastating for our country — for the world — and these hesitant people who don’t want to vaccinate and want for it to be so political,” Caldwell said. “I’m older. I don’t understand the resistance. I had the polio shot. We were amazed at getting that done when I was a child. Everybody wanted it.”

Dustin Wilcox is a television production student at Murray State University. He graduated from Hopkinsville High School in 2019.
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