By Miriam Raftery
October 20, 2021 (San Diego) – East County Magazine interviewed Dr. Mark Sawyer, infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital and an advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on COVID-19 vaccines for children and booster shots. He also serves on an advisory commission for the Governor and advised County Supervisors on COVID-19 issues.
We asked him to address concerns raised by parents and others over vaccine mandates, to assess the safety of COVID vaccines compared to risks of COVID-19 for children and teens, and discuss the likely timetable for approvals of vaccines for young children and boosters for adults.
Dr. Sawyer revealed that hundreds of children have been treated at Rady Children’s Hospital for COVID-19, including 75 treated in the intensive care unit and another 75 diagnosed with multi-system inflammatory disease, a rare but serious complication of COVID-19 in children. “To say that COVID is not serious in children is underestimating the virus,” he said.
Serious complications of the vaccines, such as blood clots and heart problems, have occurred in only a couple of cases per every million shots administered, he said. But COVID can cause the same serious conditions and more, so COVID poses a far greater threat to children and others than the vaccines. COVID is also far more dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn babies than the vaccine, which can provide immunities to both mothers and children, he added.
He debunked misinformation touted by some parents, such as a belief that children don’t transmit COVID and that masks can be harmful to children’s health. In fact children can and do transmit COVID, even if they have no symptoms, threatening the health of family members who may be more vulnerable, he noted.
“We need to include children in the vaccination and mask wearing campaign, but if we do that I’m pretty optimistic that we can get past this (pandemic) once and for all,” he predicted.
Click the video link above to view the complete 16 minute interview, which will also be aired on ECM’s radio show on KNSJ.