MSNBC Spreads Disinformation About Omicron and Kids

AP Photo/Ben Gray

MSNBC is trying to scare parents into unnecessarily vaccinating their kids against COVID-19.

Pfizer hopes to get their COVID vaccine approved by the FDA for kids five and younger, and former Obama White House policy advisor Dr. Zeke Emanuel appeared on the left-wing network and claimed that vaccinating kids against COVID is a “no brainer.”

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Host Kristen Welker cited a poll showing that, while 31% of parents of kids five and younger will get their kids vaccinated right away, 29% will “wait and see,” and 25% said “definitely not.”

Emanuel blamed parents for being scared of potential side effects before falsely claiming, “With the omicron variant, kids are either going to get the vaccine or they’re likely to get a serious condition of omicron.”

We’ve known for some time now that omicron, while more transmissible than previous variants, is milder and less deadly in both adults and kids. “New research suggests that children under five who are infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus have ‘significantly less severe outcomes’ than those who catch the Delta variant,” CNN reported last month. “The preprint study adds to a growing set of evidence, with the researchers calling Omicron ‘inherently milder’ than Delta among children under 5.”

Even before omicron, we knew that kids were overwhelmingly safe from COVID. Last year, a study from the U.K. found that unvaccinated children are safer from COVID than even vaccinated adults of any age. In fact, school-age children have a COVID recovery rate of 99.997% — better than their mortality risk from the seasonal flu.

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This is very misleading. Evidence has shown that the vaccines may not be significantly helpful in preventing infection by the omicron variant, though it may reduce the severity of symptoms. But, as previously noted, COVID was already overwhelmingly mild for school-age kids, and omicron is even more so. Yet, Dr. Emanuel says he’s “confused” about parents who don’t want to vaccinate their kids. “Five and above, seems like it’s a no-brainer.”

Dr. Emanuel is wrong. Getting your kids vaccinated is not a no-brainer. He is simply scaring parents into thinking their children will become severely ill unless they vaccinate them from COVID. And MSNBC gave him a soapbox with no counterpoint. This is what the media does. In December, the media falsely claimed there was a surge in child COVID hospitalizations.

As we’ve previously reported, studies suggest that there’s anywhere from a 1 in 5,000 to a 1 in 6,000 chance of myocarditis in young men who receive a second dose of an mRNA vaccine. According to Doran Fink, M.D., deputy director of the clinical side of the FDA’s Division of Vaccines and Related Products Applications, “when you look at the balances of risk versus benefit, what we really start to see is risk of myocarditis being higher [than risk from COVID-19] in males under age 40.”

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Experts in Sweden agree. Last month, health officials in Sweden decided against recommending COVID vaccines for kids aged 5-12, arguing that the benefits don’t outweigh the risks.

“With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” Swedish Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm said last month.

In reality, parents are weighing the risks and benefits of vaccinating their kids and making decisions based on their assessment. High-risk kids probably should get vaccinated. Kids who are not high-risk probably don’t need to. Reasonable parents can make the reasonable conclusion not to get their kids vaccinated from COVID.

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