FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Local health professionals addressed vaccine concerns in a virtual panel.

Topics included how to get your child’s vaccination record and the risk for children who do not get their traditional vaccines. Nonprofit organization MDWise hosted the panel, Back on Track, designed to answer questions about vaccinating children.

The panel was moderated by Terra Brantley, President and CEO of the Fort Wayne Urban League, and featured:       

  • S. Maria Finnell, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA)
  • Tony GiaQuinta, MD, FAAP, Past-President, Indiana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrician, Parkview Physicians Group
  • Christina Tatara, OD, Lutheran Health Network
  • Torriaun Everett, Vice President, Health Plan Operations, MDwise

It was organized it after they say 26% of students fell behind on their immunizations last year.

“As much as we shifted a lot and did telehealth visits for as much as we could so that people had access, that was obviously something that couldn’t provide a childhood immunizations during those times,” said Dr. S. Maria Finnell, Chief Medical Officer, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. “That was one part of it, but I also think what we all need to recognize is that this pandemic has been terribly hard on families.”

Although they were open to answer questions about vaccinating children in general, the COVID-19 vaccine was one of the bigger topics for the night. One commenter on Facebook asked about the safety of administering the COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 and up.

“I think that this really goes back to what vaccines are trying to do, we think about back, a lot of people say vaccines aren’t natural, to which I say, well, in a way they really are,” Dr. Tony GiaQuinta, pediatrician, Parkview Physicians Group, said. “We’re still using the body’s immunity to fight off this infection, except for not giving the whole disease itself., this spike protein that your body is making in response to that vaccine. And then and then quickly overcoming that’s the same spike protein that is on the virus. So in terms of danger, or one better than the other, I would just have to say the process of the immunity is really the same.”

“Taking the chance and develop natural immunity to COVID, it is a gamble that some will do okay, but a lot we know now that lots of people don’t do okay,” added Finnell. “They even have long-term symptoms.”

You can watch the full panel on the MDWise Facebook page.