Parents of our country’s youngest citizens, six-months and older, have been waiting and waiting to getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19. Finally, the FDA and CDC have given the green light to vaccinating this age group. Now that these entities have granted emergency use authorization, parents probably still have questions in order to move forward. Well, we have a few answers for you. Here are five questions answered about the COVID-19 vaccine for young children.
Do young children really need to be vaccinated?
“Children are less likely to become severely ill with COVID-19 than adults, but there is still a risk,” said Dr. Drews, medical director of infection prevention and control at Houston Methodist Hospital, in a recent article for the hospital. “Additionally, young children can spread COVID-19 while ill, even if the infection is mild or they’re asymptomatic.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that more than 2 million COVID-19 cases have been reported among young children to date.
Should I get my child vaccinated if he or she has already had COVID-19?
“Even if your child has had COVID-19, it is still recommended that he or she be vaccinated,” said Dr. Drews. “There are still too many questions regarding natural immunity to feel confident in its protection.”
Although about 75% of children have had the virus, Dr. Drews reiterates that parents should not rely solely on natural immunity as new COVID-19 variants continue to arise.
How do vaccines for young children differ from what parents received?
“After the final dose, it will take another two weeks for your child’s immune system to complete its work of building immunity,” stated Dr. Drews. “Keep this in mind as you consider summer travel plans and camps.”
Parents must also remember that the pediatric versions of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use identical technology to the adult versions; however, there are differences in how these shots are administered to children under the age of five.
Does it matter which COVID-19 vaccine your child receives?
“Both vaccines provide safe, effective protection,” Dr. Drews confirms. “There is likely no significant advantage in either of the available options right now, and I recommend getting whichever vaccine is made available to your child.”
What side effects do children experience?
According to Dr. Drews, the most common side effects that have been reported include:
- Pain, redness and swelling at the site of injection
- Swelling of lymph nodes in the same arm or thigh as the injection (felt in the underarm or groin, respectively)
Children between six and 36 months may also experience irritability, sleepiness and loss of appetite.
If you are considering vaccinating your young child within this target age group, contact your pediatrician and make sure that the either vaccine is right for you.