While vaccinating children is certainly more of a gray area …

Comment on Why Vaccinate Kids Against COVID-19? by Sean Pitman.

While vaccinating children is certainly more of a gray area as compared to vaccinating adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions, there are benefits to vaccinating children that Dr. Martin Kulldorff failed to mention – such as injuries that happen even if a child doesn’t die. These injuries and longer-term problems aren’t exactly rare either – as described in my article above. There is also the issue of children spreading the virus to others who are more susceptible.

Even death, while relatively uncommon among children compared to older adults, is still a problem. Almost 700 children have died from COVID-19 in the US so far. While this might seem to be similar to a normal flu season where between 34-200 children die during a given year, keep in mind that these numbers are affected by flu vaccinations that are given to children every year. Flu shots are widely available to all kids, while no COVID vaccines have been authorized for children under 12. More than half of children, around 60%, get their flu shot each year. This significantly reduces the death rate for children who are vaccinated since the vast majority (~90%) of kids who die from the flu each year are unvaccinated. That means, if you compare apples to apples, the flu death rate for children would be much higher without the annual flu vaccine – which is the reason why a flu vaccine for children has been made available. Why then should we not make a COVID vaccine available for children as well?

“Among children age 1-14, COVID-19 was in the top 10 leading causes of death through August and September 2021. Among children age 5-14, COVID-19 ranked as the number 6 leading cause of death in August and September. Among children ages 1-4, COVID-19’s rank rose from number 13 to number 7 among leading causes of death in August 2021 and held there in September.” (Link)

As far as the known risks of vaccines for children, these risks are still far less than the risks of getting infected by the live virus – for every significant risk one can list.

It is for this reason that the FDA advisory panel unanimously voted, yesterday, to approve the reduced dose Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 (Link).

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Why Vaccinate Kids Against COVID-19?
Assuming the 90% efficacy figure for the Pfizer vaccine holds up, vaccinating one million 5- to 12-year-old children would prevent 33,600 cases and 170 hospitalizations over 120 days. The CDC puts the figure about 58,000 cases and 226 hospitalizations prevented. During the same period of time, there would be around 21 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis (Link, Link). There is also the argument that the significant majority completely recover from vaccine-related myocarditis/pericarditis without any long-term effects. Recovering from a COVID-19 infection requiring hospitalization, however, often results in long-term injuries.


Why Vaccinate Kids Against COVID-19?
Although rare, it is thought that the production of the spike protein, from cells translating the mRNA vaccine, can trigger the same inflammatory cascade as a COVID-19 infection, resulting in these neurotrophic effects such as seizures (Link, Link). In children, seizures following various kinds of vaccinations may be related to the development of fevers (Link). Such febrile seizures do not end up affecting a child’s development or behavior (Link). It may also be that certain individuals are more prone to this side effect.

It is also interesting to note here that seizures may be the first and main manifestation of COVID-19 in children. “Seizures may occur even in children with no history of epilepsy and in the absence of fever or severe COVID-19 illness, necessitating a ‘high index’ of suspicion for the virus to make an early diagnosis and allow for appropriate infection control measures… Among 175 children diagnosed with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection in the emergency department over 10 months in 2020, 11 (6%) presented with seizures. Studies in adults with COVID-19 have reported seizures in 0% to 2% of cases, the investigators note. The 11 children with seizures (seven boys) ranged in age from 6 months to 17 years (median age, 11.5 years). All of them had seizures as the presenting sign of infection and none had severe COVID-19 requiring ventilatory or hemodynamic support. Six of the 11 children presented with fever.(Link).


Why Vaccinate Kids Against COVID-19?
That’s kinda of a grey area since, for most people (~80%), naturally-derived immunity (i.e., due to a previous infection by COVID-19) produces a good level of immunity against future infections that is often better than that produced via vaccination. The only caveat is that vaccine-derived immunity appears to be more consistent for a greater percentage of people. On top of this, children already have a much lower risk for serious infections to begin with. So, to be honest, in your situation, it’s very hard to say if vaccinations for your children would offer a significant advantage when it comes to protecting them or others around them. I just can’t point to any good evidence that clearly shows that it would – at least in the short term. Perhaps, after a year or so, since it seems as though immunity to COVID-19 wanes over time, it might be helpful to get at least one Pfizer shot as a “booster”?


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
I’m just saying is that if you think that what you say on blog sites like this one doesn’t really affect people, especially when you present yourself as an MD, you’re mistaken. I know that people have been influenced against taking the mRNA vaccines by what you’ve said here in this forum. You’re not simply being neutral in what you’ve posted. You do, in fact, come across as being opposed to the mRNA vaccines – also noting that you didn’t get vaccinated yourself and chose to get infected by the live COVID-19 virus without pre-established vaccine-based immunity. You’ve also come across as being strongly against any response by me to the articles that you’ve referenced where I point out how these papers really do not actually undermine the efficacy and/or the relative safety of the mRNA vaccines. Clearly, you don’t come across as being neutral on the topic.

And, such comments have an effect on people – they really do. While that upsets me, again, it’s more important to me to allow for those who disagree with me to also post their comments rather than to only allow what I personally think is true to be posted.

Beyond this, no one is twisting your arm to post our comments here. You can post or not post as you wish. That’s entirely up to you. But, don’t expect that I won’t push back when you post comments that I think will increase the risk of those who read what you have to say…


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
The difference between us is that I see people in the ICU, as does my brother-in-law Dr. Roger Seheult (a pulmonologist in S. Cal.). You might see the occasional person die from COVID-19, but those who work ICUs in larger medical centers see far too many people die from COVID-19 – to include young people (not just those in nursing homes). You might offer the vaccine to those whom you see, but if you present arguments to them like the ones you’ve presented here, such advice most certainly does result in increased injuries and even death. For me, that’s a big deal. You might call it “weird and overly dramatic” if you want, but for me the effort to save lives and reduce injuries is neither “weird” nor “overly dramatic”. I mean, that’s why I do what I do…

Now, you say, “The discussions that I have on blogs like this are my personal thoughts and concerns. They don’t reflect the way that I actually practice primary care medicine on a daily basis.”

That would be great if this were a private conversation, but it isn’t. It is a public conversation and your words have an impact on the hundreds who read this blog every day. I mean, in a very real sense, especially given that you include your title “MD” with your name, and often point out that you are a medical doctor when you post to this blog, you are, in fact, practicing medicine when you post public comments like you do. You cannot simply say, “I don’t actually follow my own advice that I post in blogs when I practice primary care medicine on a daily basis.” Your influence simply isn’t limited to what you do face-to-face with patients in your clinic. Your influence also extends to what you say and do in front of people outside of your daily medical practice.


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
Well, I’m glad you go at least this far… although I still think that the kinds of arguments you present here really do put people’s lives and health at increased risk. I know you don’t agree, but that’s how I see things from my own perspective.

Now, I’m fine with you, and those who think like you, having the ability to freely share your opinions – despite how mistaken and damaging I personally think these opinions may be. That’s just the nature of living in a free society – which I think is far more important than restricting the freedom of speech.


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
Yes, I’ve been reviewing these particular evolutionary arguments for over 20 years myself: Link, Link

Again, however, when it comes to active retrotransposons in normal human cells, naturally, the expression of LINE sequences is repressed in most cell types. Its RNA is mainly heritable during early embryogenesis because of its enrichment and high retrotransposition activity in early embryos (Grow et al., 2015). That’s why the Swedish research team used a tumor cell line where LINE-1 sequences where more strongly expressed.

On the other hand, it does seem to be true that cells infected by live SARS-COV-2 viruses do show enhancement of expression of retrotransposons:

In our study, we analyzed publicly available transcriptome data of human cells infected with coronavirus MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, and observed enhanced expression of TEs including several retrotransposons, as well as inflammation, immunity, and apoptosis related genes. We further noticed potential fusion of SARS-CoV-2 RNA with retrotransposon transcripts especially LINEs and SINEs… One of the major mechanisms for LINE-1 silencing is DNA methylation, and we examined expression of genes encoding DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and Ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes mediating active DNA demethylation. We observed that Tet genes were generally upregulated after coronavirus infection (Figure 2D), and upregulated DNA demethylation activity may lead to demethylation of retrotransposon promoters. This result supports that increased retrotransposon expression was caused by genome-wide DNA demethylation. We obtained similar results in MERS-CoV/SARS-CoV infected MRC5 cells which are noncancerous human lung fibroblast cells (Figures 2A–D)… SARS-CoV-2 infection also causes upregulation of TET gene expression (Figure 2D). Similarly, SARS-CoV-2 was identified to have the capability of infecting human intestinal organoids (Figure 2E) and increased retrotransposon expression can also be observed post infection in a time-dependent manner (Figure 2F)…

Coronaviruses are RNA viruses and are not supposed to integrate into host genome by themselves. However, it was reported that several RNA viruses have capacity to recombine with retrotransposons to invade host genome (Geuking et al., 2009)… This demonstrates high efficiency of LINE family especially LINE-1 in forming chimeric transcript with SARS-CoV-2 RNA. LINE-1 is autonomous retrotransposon with retrotransposition activity, and RNA-RNA ligation mediated by endogenous RNA ligase RtcB was previously reported for LINE-1 to carry other types of RNA for host genomic invasion (Moldovan et al., 2019), so similar mechanisms may apply for SARS-CoV-2 transcripts. Further examination of human genome from SARS-CoV-2 infected human cells or biopsies will be particularly important to identity existence of integration of coronavirus RNA into human genome.
(Link)

So, you see, if anything, infection by live SARS-COV-2 viruses puts a person at higher risk of cellular genetic modification compared to the mRNA vaccines. This only adds to the reasons to get vaccinated against COVID-19 rather than to gain “natural immunity” the hard way – i.e., via a live SARS-COV-2 infection. Yet again, the risks are simply far higher here for the natural infection vs. vaccination.


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
I think everyone’s knowledge of retrotransposons is limited when it comes to how they might possibly pose any kind of real risk for the use of mRNA technology – for vaccines or any other use. If you think otherwise, by all means, do share with me how retrotransposons reasonably create such a risk? This paper from Sweden that you’ve most recently forwarded certainly does no such thing.

As far as what kind of “weight of evidence” it would take to change your mind about mRNA vaccines, you say that you don’t require “absolute knowledge”, but it certainly seems as though you’re raising the bar far far higher than is reasonable – to the point of preferring to get sick with a COVID-19 infection, putting yourself at a far higher risk of long-term injury and even death, rather than take an mRNA vaccine. Given the evidence that is currently in hand, I find that position to be rationally untenable – especially when it comes to trying to convince others to do the same thing during a time when those who are getting very sick and dying, still thousands every day, are almost all unvaccinated.

Now, I’m glad that you personally survived, but spreading misinformation like this has cost and is still costing many lives. I have a problem with that and I do not at all apologize for my strong recommendation that pretty much everyone who has access to the mRNA vaccines get vaccinated against COVID-19.