By Darryl Sellers
An outpouring of Black parents are lining up in vaccination centers across the United States to get Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for their children.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized emergency approval for two small doses of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
More than 9 million children between five and 11 years old have received at least one dose of the vaccine, bringing the FDA closer to making Pfizer-BioNTech’s low-dose vaccine available for 28 million children in this age bracket.
The call-to-action for Black parents to get their children ages five to 11 vaccinated also comes with a growing concern about long COVID, a condition marked by ongoing COVID-19 symptoms, including brain fog and chronic fatigue, that is affecting more than 6 million children. Other children have been diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare condition that affects multiple organs. And others are struggling with their mental health.
Dr. Nina Ford Johnson, a physician at Cobb Institute and a pediatrician with Infirmary Pediatrics in Alabama, stressed the importance of protecting Black children from long COVID, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome and other problems that are becoming more widespread in the U.S.
Dr. Ford Johnson is also the president of the Medical Society of Mobile County, a professional membership organization founded in 1841 that develops medicine to conserve and protect public health.
Last year, Dr. Johnson didn’t have any flu cases among her patients, leading her to think that the flu had been eradicated. But this year, she’s seeing a sharp rise in the number of flu cases among her patients. “A few days after I thought that, it popped up,” she said. “And I’ve been seeing it ever since.”
Dr. Ford Johnson reminds us that a flu shot protects kids and adults from the flu and other related illnesses, including pneumonia. And that we should see COVID vaccines in the same light.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is cautiously optimistic that the number of Omicron cases have already peaked and will now spiral downward. This month, there’s a growing concern that some states are prematurely dropping their indoor mask mandates.
Dr. Ford Johnson said this makes it even more imperative to vaccinate Black children. “This is very concerning. We still have to stay on top of this,” Dr. Ford Johnson said.
“This pandemic has not gone away, and we can witness that with those who’ve lost loved ones. This is a public health emergency. This is something that must be done, not just to protect the child itself, but also to protect communities.”
Dr. Ford Johnson said Black Americans should have a collective mindset and get their children and themselves vaccinated, which will get them to the other side of the pandemic in 2022.
“We’re doing this to help each other,” Dr. Ford Johnson said. “I wish everyone would kind of see that from that light and from that standpoint. If we vaccinate each other and vaccinate ourselves, we are protecting each other. I hope that message comes across and is received.”
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Darryl Sellers is Director of the PR Team for Creative Marketing Resources, a strategic marketing agency in Milwaukee and a partner of the Cobb Institute.