a conversation with Rep. Lisa Reynolds (HD 36)
More than 80 percent of adults vaccinated in Oregon so far, and many children are now eligible to get their first doses. However, even some vaccinated parents are worried about getting shots for their kids, for fear of possible side effects. We asked Oregon state Rep. Lisa Reynolds (House District 36), who is also an M.D., about the issues surrounding vaccines and how individual decisions affect everyone in the state.
What are health professionals telling parents about why it’s important to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Here’s what I see: There have been 6.5 million cases of pediatric COVID in the US with 25,000 children hospitalized. 600 kids have died from COVID. In Oregon, 600 kids have been hospitalized. There have been 50 severely ill children with the disease. There are cases of long COVID in kids (I have a few patients in this category). And 5 children have died.
My colleagues who work in the Pediatric ICU tell me: there has not been a single vaccinated kid who needed intensive care services. The COVID cases that were sick enough to need an ICU were among unvaccinated kids and teens. The vaccine is safe and 90.7% effective. Furthermore, kids carry and spread COVID, putting elderly family members at risk.
In terms of myocarditis (heart inflammation), 1 in 80,000 second doses of the vaccine can lead to a self-limited (full recovery) case of myocarditis, while 1 in 40 kids with COVID have more complicated heart inflammation with a more rocky recovery. These numbers are for the 12-17 years olds. We don’t know the numbers in the younger kids. No cases of heart inflammation were observed in the Pfizer studies. For all of these reasons, I am strongly encouraging all of my patients to get the COVID vaccine.
Thousands of adults in Oregon still haven’t had their first COVID-19 shot. What do you think can convince people of the safety and efficacy of the vaccines ?
I’m at a bit of a loss on this. I talk to families — teens and parents — who are reticent to get the vaccine, even though they have had their kids fully vaccinated with all of the other vaccines we recommend. I try to listen to what people’s concerns are. I tell them I recommend the vaccine and why. And most of the time they’ve already decided “no”. I have heard that when there is an event that a person wants to attend (like a bar mitzvah or a baby shower) that requires attendees are vaccinated, then the person will get the vaccine.
For the most part, I applaud the proof-of-vaccine requirement for public events. I am not currently eating indoors in restaurants, though I have been enjoying the variety of outdoor options. I will only consider eating indoors if there is a vaccine requirement. I will only go into the homes of people who have been vaccinated.
Our state (and Multnomah County especially) have suffered economically since March 2020. What do you see are some ways MultDems can lead the way to bring our region and state back to economic and social health?
Patronize local businesses! And keep asking our electeds to do all they can to help those who are struggling. We’ve had unprecedented monies arrive from the federal government. Now we need to put it to work to get people housed, to right inequities, to improve access to behavioral health and addiction services.