Recently, the country reached a long-awaited milestone when teens and younger teens were eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
And more than half a million children ages 12 to 15 have already received vaccines against COVID since the May 10 clearance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moderna has just announced that its vaccine is also safe and effective between the ages of 12 and 17 and is expected to start offering it to teens this summer as well.
Two Michigan medical experts recently answered key questions from parents about COVID-19 vaccines for children during live questions and answers, ranging from expected side effects and concerns about children and teens with allergies to myths and misconceptions about the vaccine.
Family physician and immunization expert Pamela Rockwell, DO, i Sharon Kileny, MD, pediatrician at the University of Michigan Health CS Mott Children’s Hospital, answer the frequently asked questions below.
Frequently asked questions for experts: COVID vaccines for children and adolescents
1. Do children aged 12 to 15 receive the same vaccine and dose offered to adults and are there differences in vaccine administration at younger ages?
Yes. This is the same vaccine and dose Pfizer that was previously offered at 16 years and older with two shots 21 days apart. There are no differences.
2. What can you tell us about clinical trials involving this age group in terms of safety and efficacy?
More than 2,000 adolescents aged 12 to 15 years were part of the Pfizer phase three clinical trial, which found 100% efficacy in protection against COVID-19 and robust antibody responses, surpassing those previously recorded in Pfizer. vaccinated participants aged 16 to 25 years.
The children were followed for two months with no serious adverse effects.
3. We have heard that in adults, younger people sometimes have worse side effects from the COVID vaccine than older people. What can parents expect for side effects among teens and younger teens? In the case of families will you plan for the children to be out of school or other activities for a few days afterwards?
Side effects were also similar to those in the 16-25 age group. As in people 16 and older, the first shot caused fewer side effects than the second for younger children.
If children have an important event, such as a big sports game, parents may consider separating a vaccine a couple of days in advance to allow time for side effects to occur, Rockwell suggests.
“About 90% of children will have side effects that are considered mild,” Rockwell says. These can range from a sore arm and headache to fever or muscle aches and usually last one to two days.
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“This is a lower price to pay than the potential for (serious illness), being hospitalized or being responsible for making someone else very ill in society.”
4. Are there warnings for the COVID vaccine in children with food allergies, those who use an epi-pen or have anaphylaxis?
There are no food or latex allergies to vaccines and the vaccine is completely safe for children with these types of allergies, Kileny says.
The CDC recommends that people be vaccinated even if they have a history of severe allergic reactions that are not related to vaccines or injectable drugs. However, if your child has had an immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy, you should consult your doctor.
People allergic to polyethylene glycol should also talk to a doctor before receiving the vaccine because it is closely related to polysorbate, an ingredient in mRNA vaccines.
Doctors advise anyone with a history of severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis to wear an Epi-pen and Benadryl and to wait at least 30 minutes instead of the usual 15 after their shot to return home.
However, allergic reactions to the COVID vaccine remain rare.
“As the father of a child with a food allergy, I can tell my daughter to be shot,” Kileny says. “But if in doubt, contact your specialist “.
5. How do you know if the COVID vaccine is safe for children in the long term?
Vaccine development is based on decades of research and scientists and federal agencies have done a rigorous review of all available data before approving it for teens and teens. While no long-term studies are available, there are no biological reasons to believe that this vaccine, compared to others, has long-term adverse effects, Rockwell says.
Children in these tests will also continue to be supervised for years.
“With any vaccine and any medication you take, you should always weigh the risks and benefits,” Kileny says. “All data point to benefits that far outweigh the risks with the COVID vaccine.”
6. Is there any reason why puberty-related hormones can alter children’s immune response or side effects?
Younger people are expected to have a stronger immune response because of their stronger immune system. But this has nothing to do with hormones.
7. Can the COVID vaccine affect my child’s fertility in the future?
This is a myth that seems to have circulated on social media from a false report.
Truth: mRNA is the code or message to duplicate a spike protein that helps the body react faster if it is exposed to COVID-19, which contains that specific spike protein.
The false report stated that the coronavirus ear protein was the same as another ear protein involved in placental growth during pregnancy.
But the two tip proteins are completely different and different, Rockwell and Kileny say.
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And mRNA vaccines are not incorporated into the genetic material of someone getting a vaccine, so there would be no genetic reason for the vaccine to affect an egg or a sperm.
In fact, among adults, many unwanted pregnancies were reported during the vaccine trial, Rockwell notes.
“There’s been so much mistrust and bad communication,” Rockwell says.
8. Where can I find reliable information on COVID vaccines in children?
Rockwell and Kileny encourage parents to look for credible “.org” sites and sources to check for vaccine news, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
9. Are there differences in vaccine recommendations for children who have congenital heart conditions, have had transplants, or are immunocompromised?
No, there are no recommended changes in dosage or timing of vaccination.
“In fact, these are young adults who need to be vaccinated because they are at higher risk of having a severe COVID infection,” Rockwell says.
10. If my child has recently had the HPV vaccine, should there be a waiting period before receiving the COVID vaccine?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, also known as ACIP, determined that there is no need to wait between vaccines. Your child can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other routine vaccines.