Arm Yourself: Dr. Ponsetto’s COVID-19 Story

Arm yourself with the facts to make an informed decision

Arm yourself with the facts to make an informed decision

A message from Julian Ponsetto, MD, a Pediatrician at Southcoast Health, on how to arm yourself and your loved-ones against COVID-19: 

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives. During the first surge of infections in April 2020, I was working as a pediatric resident in Boston. As cases climbed and hospitals struggled to accommodate the surge of patients, our pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) was forced to admit adult patients.

Witnessing first-hand the devastation this virus caused is something I will remember for the rest of my life. However, I will also remember my colleagues’ courage and hard work, they worked tirelessly to make the best of a bad situation in the face of a new and dangerous virus.

COVID vaccines provide powerful protection

Though COVID continues to affect our daily lives, we have made great progress since spring of 2020. This is primarily thanks to the introduction of COVID vaccines, which provide powerful protection against severe disease in the vast majority of individuals. 

As we move into another winter season, protecting your family against COVID-19 through vaccination is more important than ever. Massachusetts and Rhode Island are currently seeing a rise in cases, and there is ongoing uncertainty about new circulating variants such as Omicron. While information about the Omicron variant is still being gathered, early evidence shows that current vaccines are likely to offer reasonable protection against severe disease.

Approval of Vaccines for children ages 5-11

The approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5-11 is exciting for clinicians and parents alike. While children often have a more mild disease than adults, there is still a risk of serious illness. Over 800 pediatric deaths due to COVID have occurred in the US alone since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, children seem to have a higher likelihood of experiencing Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome, a post-infectious febrile illness that can be quite dangerous following a COVID-19 infection.

Vaccinating the pediatric population helps mitigate the spread of COVID in the general community. While a child may have mild disease, they may unintentionally spread it to a vulnerable individual—immunocompromised or otherwise at-risk.

Parents and caregivers rightly want to know if the COVID vaccine is safe for their child, so a brief review of the data is helpful in this instance. In the initial trials in children 5-11 years old, over 1500 children received the Pfizer vaccine, with no serious adverse events reported.

It is important to remember that in the general population, more than 450 million vaccines have been given in the US alone at this point, with serious adverse reactions remaining incredibly rare. This is opposed to the hundreds of thousands of COVID-related deaths that have occurred, not to mention those suffering from long-term effects, known as “long-haul” COVID.

While prior infection provides a level of immunity, this immunity wanes with time, and reinfection can occur several months after the first infection. Studies show that people who have had COVID-19 and later get vaccinated have especially powerful immunity against future infection!

Here at Southcoast, we invite parents to discuss concerns and questions about the vaccine with their provider. We are happy to discuss the details of COVID-19 vaccines and help our patients feel safer.

Arm Yourself

We are at a crucial moment in human history and our actions today will help shape the future for so many. Arm yourself with the facts to make an informed decision.

Visit to find upcoming vaccination opportunities at Southcoast Health, and please speak to your medical provider if you have questions or concerns. You can also find other places to get vaccinated at