VOICES: Parents explain why they chose to vaccinate their children

I am African American, and so is my daughter. And there have been a lot of times in history where people of color have not gotten the same type of treatment, or we’ve been tested on and so I was cautious about it.

There were a couple things that helped me know it was safe.

One, I have received the vaccine didn’t have any side effects. Our close friends and family haven’t had any side effects, either. So that helped with my nervousness about it, because I was initially nervous about it even for myself.

The second thing that helped me decide was talking with doctors I know. Some of my daughter’s classmates’ parents are physicians, so I had the ability to ask them questions. Everyone turns into a specialist behind the keyboard. A lay person’s opinion was not of interest to me at all, so I chose to go through professionals. I asked her pediatrician and my doctor, both of whom are African American, questions about the vaccine. If I trust our pediatrician is going to take care of my daughter any other time, I’m going to trust his opinion now.

My daughter is getting the vaccine next week. I just felt as though it would be the best thing to keep her healthy and to keep everyone who’s around us healthy. She’s around her grandparents often who are both over the age of 60.

- Kelly Watts, mother of 10-year-old Ryleigh Manuel, Dayton

Ten years ago today, I left the hospital with one bundled-up baby, a dozen brochures and a thousand questions after giving birth to my firstborn – the one who made me a mom.

They forgot the handouts on how to parent in a pandemic.

My parenting style can best be described as “energetic worrywart.” I’ve racked up approximately 917 Internet searches over the last decade, from “kid will only eat yogurt” to “how to function on two hours sleep.” But I’m not worried about them receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

I’m much more concerned about what happens if they don’t.

For 20 months – let’s be honest, their entire lives – every decision I have made has started with, “How can I protect them?” There are plenty of things in life I can’t control for, or can’t make happen. Ensuring my entire family is protected from COVID-19 through vaccination is one small step I can take to regain the control we’ve all lost. It’s the only way I can control what happens next.

Just like a decade ago, today is both monumental and mundane. Clothes were put on, teeth were brushed, shoes were retrieved from under the couch. But much like those first steps we took out of the hospital as new parents, as my children offer their arms and their trust to get protected against COVID-19, I know this: helping my children be the safest, healthiest, most caring versions of themselves is the only thing I need to worry about.

- Audrey Starr, mother of two sons, ages 6 and 10, Kettering

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I determined that I would not receive any vaccine developed under Operation Warp Speed. It would be rushed. How safe would it be?

I watched as COVID-19 ravaged the world and I began to look at the research behind the vaccines in development. I read about the history of mRNA vaccines and discovered that for decades mRNA has been used in attempts to create vaccines. This experimentation and the knowledge gained from it are what made the expedited release of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines possible. I changed my mind about getting myself vaccinated but still did not consider it for my seven year-old. Why should I? All the existing research indicated that young children were not contracting the virus at the same rates as adults. Two things helped change my mind.

First was the vast amount of information that became available about long and short-term adverse health effects COVID survivors experience. These effects include: neurological problems, debilitating fatigue, memory issues, difficulty breathing, damage to major organs, as well as a rare inflammation of the heart. Research indicates vaccinated people are less likely to experience these effects.

Second was the emergence of the delta variant creating more cases involving children. Some of these cases resulted in hospitalization and death. Vaccinated people experience milder symptoms from the delta variant and death is much less likely. For me, deciding to get Danny vaccinated against COVID-19 became easier as evidence of the vaccine’s effectiveness became clearer. The risks of leaving him unvaccinated are too great given the facts presented.

- Mona Bailey, Jackson Twp.