Dr. Raul Garcia discusses vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 in Washington
During the COVID-19 pandemic, children have not been “at risk” because for unknown reasons, their natural immune system fought off the virus much better than adults. “While all children are capable of getting the virus that causes COVID-19, they don’t become sick as often as adults. Most children have mild symptoms or no symptoms,” reports the Mayo Clinic..
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authority to approve a reduced amount of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, given three weeks apart. They report the vaccine is about 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 through 11.
There has been a higher-than-expected number of heart inflammation cases after vaccination with the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, particularly among boys and young men. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still strongly recommends that all children 12 years and older be vaccinated.
“This is a decision that parents need to make for their own family. The government should not be forcing this on any children,” said Dr. Raul Garcia, during a Monday interview with John Carlson on KVI radio (Seattle).
Garcia is a Board Certified physician who has an extensive background in Emergency Medicine and has always advocated to follow the science. He practices as an Osteopath in the Yakima Valley and was a candidate for governor who ran to replace Jay Inslee.
“The way that you make the decision is with education,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have had a government that has used this pandemic for division and power instead of educating. I think that we would be in a different place if we had (used education).”
This comes as the effectiveness of the three FDA approved vaccines has been in decline, with the government recently approving a booster shot for those most at risk. Protection by the Pfizer vaccine lasts only four months according to some reports. (Here is a closer look at all three FDA approved vaccines.)
The Wall St. Journal in a recent report emphasized that the vaccines were designed to fight the original Alpha variant of COVID-19, whereas the public is now currently battling the Delta variant. The virus has evolved, which helps explain the reduced effectiveness of the current vaccines.
As of Nov. 8, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) reports 79 percent of people 12 and older have received at least one vaccination and over 73 percent are fully vaccinated.
As of July 12, 2021, 1,047 reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) had been reported in people under age 30, particularly in male teens and young adults, after vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has said available data “suggest likely association of myocarditis with mRNA vaccination in adolescents and young adults.”
The New England Journal of Medicine reports “among patients in a large Israeli health care system who had received at least one dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, the estimated incidence of myocarditis was 2.13 cases per 100,000 persons; the highest incidence was among male patients between the ages of 16 and 29 years. Most cases of myocarditis were mild or moderate in severity.”
Garcia notes that “children have been a group that really has been largely unaffected by this virus. Thankfully, this was a gift from nature, from God.” He emphasized that during the initial, Alpha variant wave of COVID-19, the children were not impacted. That appears to have changed with the Delta variant. The virus has changed.
“Thankfully, none of them were really sick,” Garcia said about the children he has seen in his emergency department.
“One of the things I see schools doing now is when they have a couple of cases of COVID that are positive in their schools, they’ll close down the whole school and send everybody home,” said Dr. Ken Dietrich, Chief Medical Officer of the Summit Pacific Medical Center in Grays Harbor County.
“We’re not going to prevent these children from getting infected,” he said. “They’re either going to get the virus, the vaccine or they’re going to get the infection, and if they get the infection it’s going to be a really mild infection.”
Dietrich is worried more about the negative mental health impacts on the children. “I wish we had a repeat, we could repeat the year, because I don’t think they learned very much last year,” he said. “And there have been behavioral issues and challenges and loneliness and all those other things.”
“COVID affects kids and adults completely differently,” said Dietrich.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports children were 0 to 0.26 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, and seven states reported zero child deaths.
The FDA said the benefits of the vaccine “may still outweigh the risks.” Some of the FDA and CDC’s outside vaccine advisers have wrestled for months with the possibility that the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis associated with the vaccine in children may exceed the COVID-19 risks.
More recently, “researchers in Israel reported that vaccination increased the 42-day risk of myocarditis by a factor of 3.24 (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.55 to 12.44) as compared with the risk among unvaccinated persons, events that were mostly concentrated among young male patients.”
In Louisiana, it was recently reported there were 270 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs or kidneys, related to COVID-19 infections. The state has confirmed three cases of myocarditis related to COVID-19 vaccinations.
Last summer, Israel saw a likely link between the Pfizer vaccine and myocarditis. In Israel, 275 cases of myocarditis were reported between December 2020 and May 2021 among more than five million vaccinated people. Most patients who experienced heart inflammation spent no more than four days in the hospital and 95 percent of the cases were classified as mild, according to the study.
“Children have a strong immunological response to any disease,” said Garcia. He was asked what is more dangerous for American children, COVID or the flu? “According to all the statistics, the flu,” he responded.
“We don’t put masks on kids during flu season,” he said. Carlson noted that kids can get a flu shot, but it isn’t recommended for them with the same urgency and intensity as vaccinating the elderly against the flu is, year after year.
Dr. Garcia emphasized that these viruses are going to replicate. “We’re going to have more variants,” he said. “However, the data doesn’t show that children have a high percentage of replicating this virus or giving it to adults. And the data doesn’t show that this group is something of a danger.”
The Delta variant showed that “most of the kids had a cold and got better, he said” “Is there going to be a variant that changes and kids will get sicker? It hasn’t happened yet.”
This Wall Street Journal video explains the difference between a vaccine’s effectiveness and its efficacy. Video courtesy Wall Street Journal
Garcia emphasized that parents know their children best. They should be the ones making the decision about their children’s health and whether or not to have the child vaccinated, not the government.
He emphasized that he and his wife are vaccinated. Their teenagers are vaccinated. But they are undecided about getting their 5 year old vaccinated.
The current wave of COVID-19 cases in Washington state has declined significantly from its mid September peak. With almost 80 percent of citizens vaccinated, Carlson asked why are we still demanding people wear masks and why are we still in an “emergency?”
“What has happened is that this pandemic has been used as a weapon to give power to politicians to have government overreach,” Garcia said. “It’s really unfortunate that they still today, perpetuate this and propagate this emergency status. I think they’re going to milk it to the end because they have seen the power that they have gained from government overreach.”
Garcia was asked if vaccine immunity is stronger than natural immunity from people who have recovered from COVID.
“It’s ridiculous — the whole world of immunology and everywhere else except the United States, we accept natural immunity,” he said.
Garcia spoke about people having natural antibodies after successfully recovering from the effects of the virus. He also mentioned T and B lymphocytes cells. They are the body’s memory cells as part of natural immunity and the body’s natural defenses. “We have refused to accept natural immunity as a defense against this pandemic, and it is ludicrous to me how that can be in science.”
Garcia closed out the discussion by emphasizing natural immunity. “If the vaccine is the only answer, why is immunology wrong? We haven’t been wrong, all these years of study. We have to respect natural immunity.”
It is estimated 745,000 people have had the virus in Washington state and therefore have natural immunity. There are an estimated 5.2 million people aged 12 and older who have had at least one vaccination. Adding the number of people who now have natural immunity to the vaccinated population brings the total with some form of immunity up to over 5.9 million.
The DOH reports there are 6,529,327 people aged 12 and older in Washington. Therefore, the state has about 95 percent of people 12 and older with some level of immunity, either natural immunity by virtue of having recovered from COVID-19, or after having received the vaccines.