COMMENTARY: Valley pediatrician: Vaccinate your kids for safety and a return to normalcy

Gavin Smits, 12, receives a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Harborview Medical Center on May 13, 2021 in Seattle./ Photo by David Ryder /Getty Images

By Dale Guthrie, MD, FAAP

The recent authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 years and older is a step in the right direction for protecting Arizonans. 

For over 30 years, I have been a practicing pediatrician in the Valley, and in that time I never imagined we’d be dealing with a crisis of this scale. I’m not only referring to the COVID-19 pandemic but to the massive amounts of misinformation parents have to sift through when trying to make an informed decision about their children’s health and medical care.

Being a parent is so rewarding, but it is not without its challenges. As a father of six children and sixteen grandchildren, I can attest to this. Protecting them becomes parents’ number one priority, and we do whatever it takes to keep them safe, both physically and mentally. When a close family friend died of liver disease due to hepatitis A, our young children said goodbye to her in the hospital with tears in their eyes. Now, we have a vaccine that would have prevented that illness. 

After years of humanity battling life-threatening diseases with little success, the promising outcomes of vaccinations have been instrumental in preventing families from going through traumatic moments like the one mine experienced.

As parents, we can trust in our family members and friends for guidance when tackling some of the most challenging parenting moments. However, when it comes to vaccination against serious illnesses, I am asking you — as someone who has been in your shoes — to trust your pediatrician and medical experts. We are hyper-focused on preventing the circulation of serious illnesses in our community and trained to deal with the pandemic we are facing today. Please, ask questions and voice your concerns about vaccinating your child against COVID-19; in addition to attending to your child’s health, it is our job to ensure you have accurate and factual information about their well-being. 

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