PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — As parents in Washington state get ready to send their kids back to school, many are preparing themselves for the unknown.
Some parents are worried about what protocols will be changed or added in schools when students return to in-person learning. This includes Tacoma parent Maile Smith, who does not feel comfortable vaccinating her teenaged son against COVID-19.
“Really, they just started vaccinating kids in June,” said Smith. "That's not even a little over two months into it, [and] we don't know anything as far as long-term effects.”
Smith and her family have all made the decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, even though she said they aren't against all vaccines and have been vaccinated in the past.
“This is not an FDA-approved vaccine yet, it's emergency use authorization, and there's just little known on it right now," she said.
Smith’s opinion is similar to some other parents who don't feel comfortable speaking up. In her case, Smith said it's about protecting her family.
"I have no ill feelings for parents who feel like they want to vaccinate, I feel like every parent should make the right decision for themselves and their family," she said.
After doing her own research on multiple websites, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, Smith said she does not plan on changing her mind anytime soon.
“I'm hoping that the schools are not mandating it yet just because it hasn't been out for very long and we don't know too much about it, and they call it a clinical study because, in a sense, that's what it is right now," she said.
Smith stressed her research on the adverse events that have been reported after some people received the COVID-19 vaccine, including death and other illnesses.
According to the CDC, reports of adverse events after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, including death, are rare. The CDC also makes it clear that it is unknown whether the vaccine was the cause in those cases.
The CDC stands by its report that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, urging anyone who is unvaccinated to get the shot as soon as possible.
However, Smith said if she changes her mind, it won't be until more time has passed.
“Four years from now, if they are requiring it at college, I think that's a good timeframe to see what the effects are and if it's safe for my child," explained Smith. “If we are talking about following the science on this one, I would like to follow the science on this one and there's not much out science yet."