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Dr. Debbie-Ann Shirley is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases. Here he addresses some of the concerns parents may have about their COVID-19 vaccine to their teens or preadolescents.
1. Does the vaccine work in adolescents?
Yes, recently published data from Pfizer-BioNTech shows that the COVID-19 vaccine seems to work very well in this age group. The COVID-19 vaccine was found to be 100% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in an ongoing clinical trial with children in the U.S. 12 to 15 years of age. Adolescents produced high levels of antibodies in response to the vaccine and their immune response was just as strong as that seen in older adolescents and young adults aged 16 to 25 years.
2. How do I know if the vaccine is safe for my child?
To date, the COVID-19 vaccine appears to be safe and well tolerated in adolescents. All COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. have been subjected to rigorous study, but we do not want to assume that children are young adults. This is why it is so important to study these vaccines with the same care in children before health authorities can recommend their use. Ongoing studies will continue to closely monitor vaccinated children and robust safety monitoring will help quickly identify rare or unexpected concerns if they arise.
3. I thought the children were at low risk: do they still need the vaccine?
Currently, children account for nearly a quarter of all weekly cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S. Although serious diseases caused by COVID-19 are rare in children, they do occur: thousands of children have been hospitalized and at least 351 children have died. COVID-19 in the US Some children with severe COVID-19 disease may have underlying health conditions, but not all have them. Vaccination will help protect children from developing serious illnesses.
In addition, because adolescents can transmit COVID-19 to other people, vaccinating children can be an important part of returning to normal life activities safely, including personal school attendance, participation. in team sports and dedicating time with friends. A large survey of school-age children showed that children in full or partial virtual school reported lower levels of physical activity, less time spent socializing with friends, and worse mental or emotional health compared to children. who received full schooling in person. Children experience unprecedented increases in pandemic-related indirect educational and adverse consequences, and we need to find ways to help them return to normal life quickly and safely. Vaccination is one of them.
4. What side effects can I expect for my child?
Non-serious side effects may be experienced after vaccination. The most commonly reported side effects have been pain and swelling at the injection site. Other common side effects include fatigue and headache. Similar to young adults, some teens have experienced fever, chills, muscle aches, and joint pain, which may be more common after the second dose. These effects are short-lived, however, and most resolve within a day or two.
Some teens may faint on receiving an injection. If this is a problem for your child, let them know in advance at the vaccine administration site: The vaccine can be administered while sitting or lying down to prevent injury from falling.
5. Were there any serious reactions among the children?
No serious adverse events related to vaccination were reported in the Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trial. Serious allergic reactions have rarely been reported in the elderly. Anyone with a known serious or immediate allergy to the vaccine or any component of the vaccine should not receive the vaccine. If your child has a history of severe allergic reactions or any immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy, tell the vaccine site administrator so that your child can be monitored at least once. 30 minutes after receiving it.
Parents should talk to a trusted physician or a trusted allergist if they have specific questions about the possibility of an allergic reaction in their child.
6. When will a COVID-19 vaccine be authorized for children under 12 years of age?
COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have begun or plan to begin testing COVID-19 vaccines in younger children. As more information becomes available, authorized age recommendations may change. Children between the ages of 2 and 11 could be eligible as early as the end of this year.
7. If I have been vaccinated but my child has not, could I still give them the virus?
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live COVID-19 virus, so they cannot cause COVID-19. Rather, vaccinating yourself will help protect both you and your children from COVID-19. Studies have shown that vaccinated pregnant and lactating mothers can transmit protective immunity to their young babies through the placenta and breast milk, one of the biggest benefits of vaccination.
While researchers are still learning to what extent the vaccine can help prevent the spread, vaccination remains an important way to limit the infection of people who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, such as younger children.
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