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Should My Child Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Should My Child Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine?

By Richard Brucker, MDTorrance Memorial Physician Network Pediatrician

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for my child?

Yes, the vaccines have been tested and found to be safe and effective for children ages 12 and up. The monitoring has been extensive for the safety of this vaccine, and millions of people have already been vaccinated. Some people have had no side effects and many people have reported only mild side effects after COVID-19 vaccination. In fact, it has been found children aged 12-15 had developed higher antibody titers than older adolescents and young adults. Additionally, not a single child in the vaccine cohort for children aged 12-15 developed COVID-19 during the initial monitoring period of the Pfizer clinical trial. The patients in the clinical trial are continuing to be evaluated to see if and how long after vaccination they develop COVID-19. Through continued monitoring we can determine how long the vaccine may be effective. Initially, the studies demonstrated the Pfizer vaccine was effective for at least 3 months in those individuals ages 16 and up, and now subsequent studies have shown effectiveness for at least 6 months. Multiple studies are currently underway to test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in children aged 6 months to 11 years.

Is there any difference in the vaccine a child will get (i.e. brand or dosage)?

Right now only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for children aged 12-18 years. The dose is the same as for adults. In studies with younger children, it is possible the vaccine dose may be adjusted. Part of the job of clinical trials is to determine the dose provided to the child is both safe and effective. The side effect profile and antibody response will be monitored closely, with the vaccine dosage possibly being adjusted and further studied if needed during the course of the trial. We will know more when the studies are published.

Currently, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only approved for adults, although they are being studied for children.

Do children and/or adolescents really need to get the vaccine?

The pandemic has been very hard and disruptive on the lives of everyone, especially children, and it is important for kids to get back to being kids. The best way to do so moving forward is for everyone to get vaccinated. We can then safely return to school, sports, play dates and more without worrying about the risk of getting COVID-19 or passing it along to others. Remember, you don’t know if your child’s classmate lives with someone who is considered to be at high risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19. A lot of the easing of restrictions has resulted from people getting vaccinated. In order to get herd immunity to the point where we can beat this, we need to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

Are children and/or adolescents spreading the virus?

Kids are definitely spreading the virus. Wearing masks and distancing has been a HUGE help with limiting the spread and allowing reopening.

What are the expected side effects for children after receiving the vaccine?

Common side effects include pain, redness and swelling of the arm at the injection site. You may develop fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. These are signs the body is building protection. They usually start within a day or two of getting the vaccine and may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities like school or sports, but they should go away in a few days. Many people have reported side effects after the second shot are more intense, but still most do not have severe reactions. Studies show children 12-15 years old who received the Pfizer vaccine tend to have similar side effects compared with those older adolescents and young adults who also had the Pfizer vaccine.

Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics for more details on COVID-19 vaccination.