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What to know about kids and the COVID-19 vaccine

With reports of heart inflammation and the spread of the Delta variant, parents are understandably anxious about deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Sunday marks the official start to summer and many parents are trying to decide if their kids should get vaccinated. 

For most of us, vaccination is straightforward. After your shots, the coronavirus no longer needs to dominate your life. The situation is more complicated for children and teens.

With the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and reports that the vaccine is linked to heart inflammation in teens, parents are understandably anxious. Some doctors are now saying just one dose of the vaccine may be the best option for healthy kids.

Many parents and a growing number of physicians say not enough is known about the side effects. One of those side effects includes a rare heart inflammation occurring shortly after the second vaccine dose in young people.

“The risk of the disease you're protecting against is so low, almost any risk of harm from the vaccine would weigh against using it,” said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford Medical School.

However, the Delta variant of COVID-19 could become a dominant strain this summer. It now accounts for more than 10 percent of all cases in the U.S. It is believed to be more transmissible and also more deadly. 

Still, some doctors believe only children with pre-existing medical conditions may need both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I would recommend a single dose for healthy kids because the new Delta variant is circulating in younger people and it appears to be more contagious, so a single dose makes sense for a healthy kid,” said Dr. Marty MaKary, surgeon and professor at Johns Hopkins. “And if you’re concerned about the side effects or these cardiac complications, then avoiding the second dose will enable somebody to get a pretty good amount of immunity protection without the down sides of the second dose.”

The CDC said it is tracking the issue of heart inflammation linked to the vaccines and is asking doctors to report any new cases. The agency’s meeting on the issue was postponed due to the Junetheenth holiday. 

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