The risk of children getting seriously ill from a COVID-19 infection is "extremely small" and comparable to the risk of children getting seriously sick from the flu, according to a report from National Public Radio.
According to NPR, to date there have been approximately 300 COVID-19 deaths and a few thousand serious illnesses among the more than 74 million children in the US. While there was practically no flu season in 2020-2021, in the 2019-2020 season there were 188 flu-related deaths in children.
And while the data may put some parents more at ease, others will continue to worry about the "less familiar disease" and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent guidance suggesting vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most circumstances. Health experts understand those concerns.
"When you're a parent and you're thinking of your one or two kids, it's really all or nothing," Gretchen Chapman, a psychology professor who studies health conundrums like this at Carnegie Mellon University, tells NPR. "Of course, the probability is really, really low of that very bad event, but it's not zero."
Children 12 years of age and older are currently eligible in the US for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and COVID-19 vaccines are being tested in younger kids.
But only around two-thirds of children get vaccinated for the flu, NPR points out, and children are a major contributor to flu spreading through communities. This leaves a significant challenge for public health officials as they try to convince parents to get their kids vaccinated and prevent deaths from the coronavirus.