As his daughter gets Covid, Indian American surgeon general hopes society can do more to support parents
As his four years old daughter tested positive for Covid this past Sunday, Vivek Murthy wished a vaccine was available for kids under five, but says more clinical trial data was needed for that to happen.
“In that moment, especially, but even in the many months prior to that, I had wished that we had a vaccine for kids under five,” the Indian American Surgeon General told NPR in an interview published Thursday.
“Thankfully, we’ve got a vaccine for children five and up, and for all adults. These under kids under five, like my daughter, are the ones who still don’t have that protection,” he said.
Read: Talk to kids about the pandemic: Vivek Murthy (December 30, 2021)
“I wish we had that. But I also know that we need to make sure we have good data and that data is thoroughly assessed by the FDA.” Murthy said. “I do think they’re moving as quickly as they possibly can.”
“They’re being proactive, like you’ve got to do during a pandemic,” he said. “But the most important thing is we’ve got to make sure that vaccine is safe and effective, and they won’t compromise on that standard.”
Asked whether this has made him rethink how he is talking to other parents of young children in his role as surgeon general, Murthy said, “This emphasizes to me just how important the job of parenting is and how hard it’s been during this pandemic.”
Read: Covid-19 delta wave in US is ‘exhausting’: Vivek Murthy (August 5, 2021)
“It’s not like parenting was a walk in the park prior to the pandemic, but parents have just really had an incredibly difficult time during these last two years,” Murthy was quoted as saying. “My hope is coming out of this that we can also do more as a society to support parents.”
“And more broadly, I just hope we can recognize that while parenting may not generate a paycheck, it is incredibly important work and it’s hard for me to think of a job that’s more important than raising the next generation.”
Murthy said his daughter is “doing OK. She’s congested, she’s having intermittent fevers still, and she’s telling us her throat is hurting her a lot,” he told NPR on Wednesday. “But thankfully, she’s breathing OK and she’s still smiling often, which makes us happy as her parents.”
Read: As ‘America’s doctor,’ Vivek Murthy vows a war on Covid-19 (February 26, 2021)
Asked what went through his mind when he saw the positive test, Murthy said, “I just had this sinking feeling, thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s four years old, she’s not vaccinated because there is no vaccine available for her age group.’”
“We have her wearing a mask in school, we take as many precautions as we can, but you know, my wife and I did feel some guilt, wondering if we maybe did something wrong that may have created more exposure for her. So that’s what was going through our heads,” he said.