I am a firm believer that kids are smarter than we give them credit for. I also believe they are more aware of things than we think. I would guess that many kids (of all ages) are familiar with the current pandemic. First, they heard the term “Coronavirus or COVID-19.” Then they heard the term “Social Distancing.” Next, they became familiar with the importance of wearing masks and sanitizing. Now, a new player to the pandemic has been added: vaccines. Although the vaccine is new on the scene, there have been many mentions of it through various media channels. I would not be surprised if children were wondering about what the vaccine means. Although we may not know much about it, we can probably put them at ease by explaining a few things. Opinions will vary about what parents want to tell their kids, and not tell their kids, about the vaccine. It is also up to each parent to decide what questions they want to answer of their kids’ vaccine questions. I have two kids: 5 and 8 years old. I am trying to be very transparent with them about what I know. These are tough things to talk about with kids, but since Coronavirus is currently the biggest thing happening in our lives, I thought they should have some clarity on what’s going on. The local news seems to just highlight the “number of deaths” per day and I cannot imagine how scary that must be for kids who hear that. Giving them information about the problem-solving scientists are trying to do might help them to feel at least a little better. Again, this is up to each family.  Below is a laundry list of the things I have discussed with my kids so far.

  1. Sadly, the vaccine will not magically make the world go back to normal. It will take a long time until our world goes back to the way it was, if ever. We still must wear masks and social distance until further notice.
  2. People are getting their vaccines “in order.” The people who need it the most get the vaccine first. 
  3. So far, there are only vaccines available for people who are 16 and older (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Kids are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than adults. Out of all the cases in the U.S., kids only make up 12% of the bunch. 
  4. One of the vaccines that has been created must be given to the recipient at two separate times before it is effective. One at one time and the second one a little bit later. 
  5. The vaccine is a shot, and yes, it does hurt a little. But again, so far, kiddos do not need a vaccine until a safe one is created. 
  6. Right now, our doctors and nurses are the first to get the vaccine. Then older people like Grandpa and Grandma will be getting them. Then younger adults like us, your parents, will get it. Then adults who are younger than us will get it. 
  7. Scientists are starting to create a vaccine for kids who are 12 and younger. They must make sure the vaccine is safe before they give it to kids. The adult vaccine has been tested and proven to be safe and that is why it is available to adults. 
  8. Currently, there are not enough vaccines for everyone to have one. But scientists are working hard every day to make more and more.
  9. I have explained what a “trial” means. I basically just said that things need to be tested to make sure they are 1) safe and 2) effective. I tried finding videos and found a few. WebMD has a video explaining trials that older kids may understand. I found a video for younger kids, but it is in Spanish. You can switch the captions to English though by going into “settings.” Perhaps you can read it to your kiddo if they are not a reader yet.

Simple videos have also helped me to explain the gnarly parts of Covid-19 to my babies. There is a video on YouTube called, “Why Do We Get Vaccines.” I have also used the kid-friendly videos to help explain COVID-19. Here is the link to a kid-friendly explanation of the virus. Another good video I’ve used is of Dr. Anthony Fauci answering questions from kids (and Elmo!) about vaccinations and kids. It is really sweet and gave me a lot of hope. This pandemic is exhausting, but information about problem-solving has consistently decreased my anxiety and raised my level of hope. Kids may also benefit from knowing about what is being done to beat this pandemic. Best of luck to you all in speaking with your kids about the vaccines. 

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-in-babies-and-children/art-20484405#:~:text=Children%20of%20all%20ages%20can,any%20symptoms%20at%20all.

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