Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available for children ages five to eleven, many parents are on the fence as to whether or not to vaccinate their children.
For most children with COVID-19 the cases have been mild. However COVID-19 can also be deadly, even in children. Healthcare providers are urging parents to take all available precautions to protect against the virus, and that includes getting vaccinated.
Why Do Doctors Recommend the Vaccine?
Clinicians do not want children to die from a disease that can be prevented.
According to the FDA, COVID-19 was the 8th highest killer for children in this age group over the last year. According to the CDC, at least 791 children have died from COVID-19, including 172 children ages 5 to 11. More than 8,300 kids aged 5 to 11 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 because of serious illness.
How Well Does the Vaccine Work for Kids?
The FDA states that the vaccine was 90.7 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19. The antibody response to the vaccine was comparable to the one seen in people 16 to 25 years old.
Pediatricians also point to real-world data on the effectiveness of the vaccines in 12- to 17-year-olds. Amid the recent Delta variant surge, hospitalization rates were about 10 times higher in unvaccinated adolescents than vaccinated ones, according to a recent CDC analysis.
What are the Common Side Effects?
No new safety problems were identified in the companies’ studies of this vaccine.
The most common side effects documented in the study were similar to those other age groups have had with COVID-19 vaccines.
The most common were:
- pain at the injection site
- muscle aches
Most children who get the vaccine feel fine in two or three days.
What About Myocarditis?
In very rare cases, following vaccination with mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, people have developed inflammation of the heart muscle, which is known as myocarditis. This has primarily been seen in young adult males.
Doctors say this is extremely rare, and most cases resolve on their own.The rate of myocarditis after a COVID-19 infection is much higher and more serious than after the vaccine. So the vaccine is much safer than getting a COVID-19 infection.
In Pfizer’s clinical trial for 5- to 11-year-olds, there were no cases of myocarditis.
According to NPR, rates of post-vaccination myocarditis are expected to be lower in young kids than those observed in teens.
Who Should Prioritize Getting the Vaccine?
All eligible people (ages 5 years and above) should prioritize getting the vaccine!
Conditions that put patients at higher risk for severe disease include obesity, chronic respiratory conditions, kidney disease, high blood pressure, immunocompromised, youngest and oldest ages
If My Child Already Had COVID-19, Do They Need the Vaccine?
Even for kids who’ve already had COVID-19, it’s still beneficial to get the vaccine.
“We don’t yet really understand the duration of immunity when it comes to kids,” says a pediatrician in Cincinnati, Nicole Baldwin. “Often kids get mild infections so we don’t know what that correlates to in terms of antibody levels and how long are they going to be protected,” she told NPR. It appears that protection after vaccination lasts longer than protection after disease.
Can I Just Wait?
COVID-19 is spreading now and new variants are coming. We urge all eligible people to get vaccinated now!
If My Child is 11, Should We Wait to Get Them the Higher, Adult Dose at Age 12?
If your child is 11, the dose provided in the children’s formulation is enough to protect them from the virus. The dose given will be what is appropriate for the chronologic age of the patient at the time of vaccination.
How Will Vaccinating My Child Help in the Fight Against the Virus?
As we start to increase vaccinations, there will be more protection against the virus. As you and your family get vaccinated, you will improve the overall herd immunity against COVID-19. This will bring us all closer to normalcy and the end of the pandemic.
Where Can I Get More Information?
These websites have helpful information about the COVID-19 vaccine:
You can get vaccinated against COVID at pharmacies, NYS sites, our office. Please see the NYS vaccine website for locations: