The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently signed off on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old.
The recommendation follows the recent move by the Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to delay COVID-19 vaccine compliance to July 1, 2023, to be in line with the state.
While most of the Los Angeles County population is fully vaccinated — around 73 percent — there are those still unconvinced of the value of getting the shots and are wary about any possible long-term adverse side effects.
The San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol newspaper spoke to San Fernando Valley residents who attended the recent 17th Annual Celebrating Words Festival in Pacoima to gauge their reactions to vaccines and COVID-19 booster shots.
San Fernando resident Ceila Reyes and her daughter are both vaccinated. But getting their shots was not an easy decision. Reyes still has reservations about the vaccine because of how quickly it was made.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” Reyes said. “The vaccine was developed too fast.”
Still, her trepidation about the vaccine was not outweighed by her concerns about COVID-19. She said she isn’t concerned about going out to events or being around other people who decided against being vaccinated.
“It depends on every person,” Reyes said.
Others there expressed similar sentiments.
Although she is vaccinated, Pacoima resident Lupe Ramos said she is not boosted and her elementary school-age child is not vaccinated. Like Reyes, Ramos has concerns about possible adverse effects from the vaccine and fears how it could impact her son.
Ramos said she is still practicing social distancing and wears a mask outdoors. She is choosing to wait until there is more research on COVID-19 vaccines that will ease her worries.
“He’s young. I don’t want anything happening to him,” Ramos said. “They need to prove how effective it is and that it won’t have long-term effects.
“Kids are our future. We need to take care of them.”
Others had stronger reservations about the vaccine.
Stephanie De Anda from Mission Hills said she has no current plans for herself or her 3-year-old daughter to get vaccinated. Although she describes herself as “not anti-vaccine” — her daughter has received vaccines for other viruses — De Anda said her intuition is telling her to wait on the COVID-19 vaccines.
“I believe in freedom of choice for all persons,” De Anda said. “If I don’t stand up for our rights, her [my daughter’s] generation will have to.”
While she did say she could see herself getting the vaccine “somewhere down the line,” it won’t be anytime soon. De Anda said she prefers more “nature-based” solutions, and there is “too much misinformation” going around to put her faith in the vaccine.
“You can still catch and spread the virus if you’re vaccinated,” De Anda said. “If vaccinated people didn’t get COVID, we would get [vaccinated] it.”
Shah Islam, also from Mission Hills, is vaccinated, but not by choice. Due to having a federal job in immigration, Islam said he had to get vaccinated or else he would have been fired.
Islam’s family all caught COVID-19 last year, but their symptoms were mild. They have all been vaccinated as well.
He believes that much of the fear around COVID-19 “has been perpetuated by the media,” and that there is still too much that is left unknown.
“I don’t think it’s [COVID-19] going anywhere,” Islam said. “Fear is an amazing thing.”
There were others, however, with more faith in the vaccine, choosing to get it sooner rather than later.
Nora Cisneros — a California State University, Los Angeles professor who teaches Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies — is vaccinated, as is her whole family. She said she received her first shot as soon as she was able to, a few weeks after the vaccine was first approved.
“I had a ‘normal’ amount of reservation about the vaccine [at first], which is how I approach other medical information,” Cisneros said. “But we thought it was worth the protection.”
She also said that she plans to have both her kids receive the booster shot now that the CDC approved them for young children.
Megan Robbins, a librarian from Lancaster, got the vaccine when she was in her second trimester with her 10-month-old daughter. She has since then received her booster shot.
Robbins said she is not concerned about parents choosing not to get the vaccine, saying that it’s their business. She is also not worried about possible long-term effects of the vaccine, as she has done her own research and is in contact with a pediatrician.
Although Robbins’ daughter is too young to get the vaccine, Robbins is awaiting possible news from the CDC to approve shots for infants.
“There was talk about the Pfizer vaccine for babies,” Robbins said. “Hopefully we don’t have to wait until she’s 2.”