For parents of younger children, vaccine decisions were not easy

SECOND DOSE: Rose Dumanal holds her son Seth's shoulder as he gets his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at an outreach vaccination clinic Monday in Barrigada. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

Getting younger children vaccinated is a decision that some parents on Guam weighed carefully.

Some have taken their children to vaccination clinics while others are holding out for different reasons, but winning a prize was not part of the equation, some parents said.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero announced "Vax N Win" prizes including a $10,000 cash prize and new cars to encourage more Guam residents to get immunized against the virus that causes COVID-19.

For some parents, deciding to vaccinate or not to vaccinate was simple, even if their answers are on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Jolene Quichocho, a mother of four, said she took her two kids to get vaccinated as soon as they became age-eligible.

“Yes, as soon as we knew that our 17-year-old was eligible, we took him to get vaccinated. Same with our 12-year-old; once we knew she was eligible, we took her as well,” said Quichocho.

She said her decision had nothing to do with winning prizes.

Preparing for travel, health precaution

“It was because in case we traveled and if it was a requirement for traveling, then we already got them vaccinated but of course we got it also because if it's to help them not get COVID-19, then we are all about that,” said Quichocho.

COVID-19 vaccinations efforts have been grouped by age as the government of Guam pushes to vaccinate 80% of the island’s population. Currently, youth as young as 12 can get immunized against COVID-19. 

A week following the opening of vaccination to this age group, Dr. Hoa Nguyen, a member of the governor’s Physicians Advisory Group reported about 20% of children in the age group received the vaccine.

“The vaccines are very, very safe. In the population of adults 18 years and older, (the vaccine has) 95% efficacy, and for anyone younger – 12 to 16 – it's 100%. You can’t beat that. If you’re a gambler (those are) really good odds to protect yourself, your family and the community around you,” said Nguyen.

Vaccination for babies coming up

He shared that by October, the COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to children 6 months to 12 years old, once it’s approved for that age group by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Some parents have chosen not to get their children vaccinated.

A parent of a 16-year old, who wishes to be identified by the initials J.J.B., voiced concern that COVID-19 vaccination is approved for emergency use only, which falls below the usual clinical trials that can take years.

The parent also considered that “minors on island have the lowest infection and death rate."

Vaccinating against COVID-19 is voluntary, and for J.J.B.’s family, they chose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Sunlight, hand-washing, masks, and social distancing (have) kept our family safe thus far," J.J.B. stated.

Krystal Compton, a mother of two, came to a similar conclusion.

“I chose to not vaccinate because of the potential future health strain it might cause on their immune systems. Also, I wouldn't want to put a man-made vaccine into their bodies when we can naturally develop immunities on our own. God made miracles with our bodies,” said Compton.

For Abigail Ogo, a mother of five, the decision was based on each of her children's situation.

"My 17-year-old and 16-year-old are vaccinated because they are well into sports and wanting to go back to having to play again. I felt that it’s what’s best," she said.

But for her 13-year-old son who is diagnosed with autism, she chose not to get the younger child vaccinated at this time.

His son is non-verbal, the mother said, and "he won’t be able to let me know how he feels" if and when the vaccine's adverse effects affect her son.

Ogo is still thinking about whether to get her 12-year-old child vaccinated against COVID-19.

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