COVID-19 vaccine and children. Answers to your questions

Children aged 5 to 11 are the last group in the United States to qualify for the coronavirus vaccine, and are joined by nearly a quarter of a billion people aged 12 and older who have received at least one dose so far. The White House announced on Wednesday that about 900,000 new age children will already have the vaccine in the first week of vaccine availability. But not everyone is in a hurry to make an appointment – many parents are waiting to see how things go with their first adoptive parents.

Medical experts say large-scale vaccinations are critical to containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical trial data shows that Pfizer’s vaccine, approved for emergency use in children aged 5-11, is more than 90 percent effective in preventing severe coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths. And when you look at this pandemic, people who have not been vaccinated make up the vast majority of people who have been affected the most, a testament to the protective and preventive power of vaccination.

However, older children who are eligible since spring receive vaccinations more slowly than adults, and some families with younger children may hesitate as well. According to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in late September, a minority of parents with children aged 5 to 11 – about three in 10 – said they would immunize their children against the virus as soon as possible. Rigorous clinical trials and hundreds of millions of vaccines show that these vaccines are safe and effective. However, the biggest concern for parents was that they might cause unknown potential long-term side effects. Other concerns included not knowing whether parents would have to pay for vaccines (vaccines are free) and other access issues such as lack of reliable transportation.

The bottom line is that, according to medical experts, if in doubt, contact a trusted healthcare provider, such as your child’s pediatrician. We’ve brought your questions to numerous public health and pediatric experts to share what we know about vaccines and protecting young children from this deadly virus.

Below we collect their responses. Do you have a question that you want an answer to? Leave it here.

How does the vaccine work?

For children and adults, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart, and the person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose in the series.

After this time, most people will develop enough antibodies against COVID-19 to protect themselves from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

How is a childhood vaccine different from an adult vaccine?

For children aged 5 to 11 years, the doses are three times less than the doses administered to adults. These doses can also be stored in a regular refrigerator for up to 10 weeks, as opposed to adult doses, which must be used or thrown away after a month of normal refrigeration. This innovation makes it easier to distribute the vaccine than in the early stages of vaccine introduction in the United States.

Are there any side effects?

The side effects of vaccinating young children against COVID-19 are minor and in line with what parents and pediatricians see after immunizing children against influenza, such as initial pain and swelling at the injection site, fever, chills, headache, and fatigue.

If you notice any side effects, please report them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention v-safe database. With this smartphone app, vaccinated people can report how they feel after receiving a dose to help researchers collect and analyze vaccine safety information in near real-time.

Is the vaccine safe?

The CDC said after extensive clinical trials that vaccinating a child against COVID-19 is safe, and the benefits of this vaccination outweigh the risks of anticipation and potential coronavirus disease. Health experts also say COVID and flu vaccinations are safe at the same time. And it is impossible to get infected with COVID-19 from the vaccine itself.

Since Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for children ages 5 to 11, researchers continue to monitor data for safety and efficacy. Dr. Paul Offit, FDA Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biologicals, shared this guidance before voting on October 26 to support the use of COVID vaccine in young children: “You never you know everything. The question is, do you know enough. ”

Can my child develop heart disease or myocarditis after vaccination?

In rare cases, young people who have been vaccinated develop inflammation of the heart muscle or inner lining, which can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, and palpitations, especially after the second dose. An FDA analysis of Optum’s health insurance claims showed that 180 cases per million fully vaccinated boys aged 12-15 developed myocarditis.

But these cases were relatively mild compared to what happens after infection with COVID-19, which increases the risk of myocarditis by 15 times. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in most cases, they “responded well to medication and rest, and they felt better quickly.” These side effects should be reported to the CDC Vaccine Side Effects Reporting System or the VAERS database, according to the experts who have consulted the CDC about this.

Will COVID Vaccination Affect My Child’s Fertility?

The CDC notes that there is no evidence that any vaccine causes fertility problems, including the COVID vaccine. However, using fertility as a talking point is a common strategy for vaccine advocates.

READ MORE: There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines reduce fertility. This is what fuels the myth

My child already had COVID. Should they be vaccinated?

It’s unclear how strong and lasting protection COVID-19 infection can be for children, so public health experts recommend vaccinating children even if they get sick or test positive for the virus. Evidence presented at the November 2 CDC expert meeting suggests vaccination after recovery from COVID-19 infection provides good protection against the virus.

A child’s immune system copes with COVID better than an adult’s. Why bother?

During a pandemic, children appear to be statistically less likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19 compared to adults. According to federal data, four out of 10 children have been infected with COVID-19. Of people aged 5-11, more than 8,000 have been hospitalized, a third of them with no known medical conditions that could predispose them to severe COVID-19 outcomes. Dozens of these school-aged children have died – the CDC lists COVID-19 as one of the top 10 causes of death for this age group. “Children should not die,” said Dr. Smriti Khare, president of Children’s Wisconsin-Primary Care. The risk to children may be less, but it is not zero.

My child was recently diagnosed with COVID. Should they be vaccinated?

Children who have recently become ill should be vaccinated, but there are some important caveats.

“If your child is still sick with COVID-19, you need to follow isolation guidelines to protect others from infection,” said Dr. Claire Bougard, who is the medical director of the COVID-19 vaccination program at Children’s National Hospital.

And if your child’s infection has been treated with monoclonal antibodies, Bougard says, you need to wait 90 days after this regimen ends before getting vaccinated. “Your body won’t have a strong immune response because it already has it all,” she said.

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