By Zachary Stieber
A White House official on June 20 made a false claim about COVID-19 vaccines while encouraging parents to get their young children vaccinated.
Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, said that “there have not been any serious side effects of these vaccines,” which is not true.
Severe allergic reactions, blood clotting, heart inflammation, and paralysis are among the serious side effects linked to the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States.
“There is a well-documented risk of myocarditis from the COVID vaccine, especially in young men and adolescent boys, and an elevated risk of clotting in young women with the Moderna vaccine,” Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, told The Epoch Times in an email.
“It’s not right for government scientific advisors to downplay documented risks of the vaccine because it ultimately undermines confidence in public health,” Bhattacharya added.
The White House did not return a request for comment.
Jha, who recently took a post with the Biden administration and who is on a break from being dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, was on a media tour on Monday promoting COVID-19 vaccination for children under 5.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer and Moderna shots for young children last week, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended virtually every child who is now eligible to get one of the vaccines.
Jha said the steps happened because the data on the vaccines were “quite compellingly clear” and both safe and effective, even though major questions arose about the safety and efficacy of the shots.
“It’s really reassuring to know that for young kids, these vaccines are exceedingly safe,” Jha said.
Children in Moderna’s trial were more likely to suffer a severe adverse event after vaccination than after getting a placebo, while more vaccinated volunteers in Pfizer’s trial experienced severe COVID-19 cases when compared to the placebo group.
“The phrase ‘safe and effective’ has become meaningless and can no longer be trusted. It has been hijacked by commercial interests. A more accurate phrase would be ‘buyer beware,’” Kim Witzczak, a drug safety advocate who started a group called Woody Matters, told The Epoch Times in a recent email after reviewing the data from the trials.
Jha also said that the vaccines “are doing an extraordinary job at keeping kids out of the hospital.” While that appears to have been the case earlier in the pandemic, it may not be now, according to data presented during meetings with the government’s vaccine advisory panels last week.
For example, effectiveness against hospitalization was just 22 percent after 60 days among 12- to 15-year-olds who received Pfizer’s vaccine, according to data from the CDC’s VISION network.
Other studies indicated higher effectiveness, but it is unclear whether the vaccines are doing an “extraordinary job.”
In addition, there is no clinical evidence that the vaccines will shield against severe cases in young children.
Jha was speaking on CBS and ABC.
All of the experts who advise the government voted in support of the vaccines.
But some said that parents should know key details, including how the safety and efficacy data were based on small numbers of children.
“I think it’s the right decision today to make these vaccines available for this age group but I also think it’s important that people understand it’s a small number of children who have received these vaccines and the safety is not as well established as it is in adolescents and adults,” Dr. Cody Meissner, who advises the FDA on vaccines, said during one of the meetings. “So it’s important to continue to follow the safety profile of these vaccines. I don’t think they should be required for any specific situation.”
On the other hand, others said they think parents should get their children vaccination, regardless of the child’s health.
“My personal hope is that every child in the U.S. seeks and gets vaccinated in the near future,” Dr. Michael Nelson, another adviser, said.