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What Every Parent Should Know About Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccines

November 09, 2021
By The Westview School COVID-19 Medical Advisory Board

They’re here; they’re here! Whether you’ve been waiting for the children’s COVID-19 vaccines like your kid waits for their birthday or you’re interested but have questions, this is a great milestone in our battle against COVID-19. As fellow Westview parents, we know how important it is to be well-informed, so let’s go over some important points:

How are these vaccines different from the adult ones?

In short, it’s the same formula, just less of it. Children aged 5-11 years old are eligible for the 10 microgram dose, while people 12 years old and up (including adults) are eligible for the 30 microgram dose. We’re expecting that the youngest group of children will be eligible for an even smaller dose (and hopefully soon!). For children, these amounts were chosen at a point that maximizes immune response while minimizing side effects.

Speaking of side effects...

Children tend to have mild to moderate side effects to the vaccines, and like adults, tend to have more side effects with the second vaccine compared to their first one. Side effects include fatigue, fever, headache, pain, chills, and vomiting. It’s tempting, but do not give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever before the vaccine; instead, wait until after the vaccination if needed.

If your child doesn’t have any side effects, don’t worry! The clinical trials did find that children aged 5-11 years had fewer side effects than older children and adults did.

What about heart effects? And fertility effects?

The risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after the COVID-19 vaccine is quite low, and COVID-19 infection is more likely to trigger an inflammation of the heart. In fact, most heart effects, if they occur, are mild and resolve within a few days. If they do occur, it’s important to be seen by your physician.

There is no evidence showing that the COVID-19 vaccine has any effects on fertility. However, there is some concern that COVID-19 INFECTION may negatively affect fertility for males and females.

I got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine; should I wait for that version for my kids?

No, we recommend you don’t wait because the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine trials for children are still underway or in the planning stages. The timeline for the release of those specific vaccines is unclear, so it would be safer to prevent COVID-19 infection with the Pfizer vaccine right now.

My child had COVID-19 recently. Do they still need to be vaccinated?

Yes, they still need to be vaccinated because we don’t know how long immunity after COVID-19 infection lasts, but there have been many cases of people being infected with COVID-19 several times. After COVID-19 infection, kids can be vaccinated as soon as they have recovered and have finished their isolation period.

Sounds good, but WHY should I vaccinate my child?

In a word, TEAMWORK! We have maintained throughout the pandemic that we’re in this together, and it’s especially true now. We vaccinate our children to protect them from getting infected and from developing severe COVID-19 if they get infected. But we also vaccinate our kids to protect our immunocompromised neighbor who makes those amazing brownies, our baby nephew, who is SO CUTE but too young to be vaccinated yet, and everyone else in our circles who is especially vulnerable.

When we vaccinate, we are limiting the number of bodies that COVID-19 can spread to, which is how we can be done with this pandemic. Sure, everyone has a cute collection of masks by now, but we really miss seeing faces!

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s a great time to get those vaccines scheduled so the kids can be fully vaccinated before Santa even makes his list.

Speaking of holidays, travel during winter break may be a possibility if your children complete their COVID-19 vaccines 2 weeks before the trip and are not symptomatic when they get back.

Keep Westview’s COVID-19 protocol chart handy for easy reference and refer to the detailed protocols for additional information.

Where can I go to get my child vaccinated?

Glad you asked! So many places, including your pharmacy, your grocery store, your pediatrician, and most/all of the local hospital systems.

Anything else?

While you’re getting the kids vaccinated against COVID-19 anyway (way to go!!), ask about getting them a flu shot too! We’re expecting a much worse flu season this year, so it would be great to prevent it too. Conveniently, you can get the flu vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine. No one wants to be home with COVID-19 or the flu when there’s holiday fun to be had!

One last thing- sometimes, things aren’t so easy and maybe even a bit overwhelming. We’ve all been there. There are many resources to support you and your family at any time.

Wishing everyone an enjoyable holiday season.

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The Westview School COVID-19 Medical Advisory Board is comprised of Westview parents and former parents with experience on the front line during this pandemic.  These highly-trained professionals work in many different fields of medicine, such as epidemiology, pulmonology, and critical care. This group of medical professionals continues to be an invaluable resource to The Westview School leadership team.