Head physician confident in vaccine for his teen daughter

"I recognize that I'm a scientist ... but that's my little girl"

Kennedy and Greyson Cauwels give a 'thumbs up' after receiving their first vaccine dose

When Sanford Health chief physician Jeremy Cauwels, M.D., was asked to debunk claims the COVID-19 vaccine causes long-term infertility, it hit home.

His 13-year-old daughter Kennedy just received her first dose.

“I recognize that I’m a scientist and I could take a very austere look at this, but that’s my little girl,” Dr. Cauwels said. “I’ve got 100% confidence that my little girl’s long-term health and fertility will not be affected by this vaccine.”

Dr. Cauwels addressed questions about kids and the COVID-19 vaccine May 20 in a live Q&A.

Circulating misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine in children has led some to question its safety and efficacy. Dr. Cauwels said that’s unnecessary.

“I did the homework, I did the homework again, I’ve done the homework multiple times during this year-and-a-half and I still gave her the vaccine,” Dr. Cauwels said. “I think it’s important for all the moms out there and those … who have reached out to my family to say, ‘Yes, I think it’s that important.'”

He says local and national leaders in obstetrics and gynecology have found no data to support concerns regarding fertility in women.

“Those concerns have been disproven both with the number of healthy deliveries we’re having in moms who have been vaccinated, as well as the number of unhealthy deliveries we’re seeing in patients who get COVID-19 while they’re trying to deliver … which can be a terrible time to have a viral infection.”

Protecting the family

Kennedy and twin brother Greyson received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine once it was available. Cauwels’ oldest son Gannon, 16, received his vaccine days after his 16th birthday in early April.

Cauwels said he and his wife had zero hesitancy when it came time to get their kids vaccinated.

“We talk about vaccines more than most people do around the dinner table,” Dr. Cauwels said. “But my children were absolutely excited to do it.”

Learn more: Sanford Health now vaccinating ages 12+ against COVID-19

For his family, it wasn’t only about freedom to resume normal activities and avoid more quarantine periods. They want to safely interact with older loved ones again.

“We have a 94-year-old great-grandmother who lives in long-term care, and they haven’t seen her in over a year-and-a-half. So, getting out to see Grandma or Great-Grandma in this case is a big plus for them.”

The science has proven the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing serious illness in adults and children.

As a physician leader in a health care organization, he is proud.

And as a father, he is grateful.

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Posted In Back to School, Children's, Coronavirus, Expert Q&A, Immunizations