As parents, we will go to the moon and back for our children. No matter how old or young, we will always want more for them just as our parents wanted more for us. Every generation has a brighter future envisioned for the next!
For the love of your children, you will give them your last piece of pie, drag yourself to the park so they can play with their friends even though you’ve only gotten five hours of sleep, dinner to cook, and that closet to organize. You will take on three jobs, if necessary, just to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table. You will do anything to keep them safe. So why the hesitancy around taking the COVID-19 vaccine during a global pandemic?
Now our hesitancy isn’t without reason. We have a troubled history with the medical community and the health disparities we experience are beyond overwhelming. Know that your concerns are valid! It’s not that you don’t want your children to be adequately vaccinated during this pandemic, but you may not be sure how this vaccine will affect them now or even in the future.
So how do you make the best and most informed decision for your children? You ASK questions! Lots and lots of questions! You talk to informed family members and friends. YOU talk to medical providers YOU trust, and if you don’t have one, research some. Ask them about their best practices and set your standards! Be prepared to interview medical providers for you and your family!
In the meantime, here are a few facts from an interview with Dr. Elias Kass, a naturopathic doctor at Intergalactic Pediatrics in Seattle, and additional information that will help you get started with your decision to ReConsider giving the vaccine to your children. Please note, at the time of this post, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available to children between the ages of 5-17.
Why is this important?
Children have always been at risk of getting COVID-19. That risk has increased with new COVID-19 variants that are more dangerous and infectious to children than the original strains. As of Feb 17, over 12 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. https://www.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/children-and-covid-19-state-level-data-report/
While children often have more mild cases of COVID-19 compared to adults, they can still become very sick and even die. COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have gotten really sick — some with long-lasting symptoms. And it’s hard to predict which kids may be at a higher risk.
The vaccine is the best way to protect children from becoming severely ill or having long-lasting health impacts due to COVID-19. Research shows COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and the vaccine, even after prior infection, helps prevent reinfection.
Vaccination is also the best way to help protect the more vulnerable people around your kids, like younger siblings, immunocompromised community members, grandparents, and other higher-risk people. This can help us all slow COVID-19’s spread in our communities.
Who recommends the vaccine for kids?
Following the authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), several medical experts and public health groups recommended the vaccine for kids ages 5 and older. These groups include the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. We encourage you to visit each organization to learn more about their recommendations. Ultimately the decisions come down to protecting children, and those around them, from COVID-19.
How effective is the vaccine for the 5 and up age group?
The vaccine was found to be very effective and safe for this age group. Pfizer’s phase three trial showed the two-dose vaccine was 100% effective among all 2,000 trial participants aged 12–15. That’s impressive!
How can we trust the vaccine won’t impact a child’s development?
It’s not biologically realistic for the vaccine to cause long-term developmental problems in children. We have lots of studies on other vaccines to back this up. These vaccines are extensively tested to ensure they don’t cause problems in a child’s development.
But unlike vaccines, COVID-19 infection can cause problems for children for years after infection, like it does with adults.
The choice is not between the vaccine or nothing; the choice is between the vaccine or a potentially severe disease. The vaccine is the only way we can prevent much of the damage that COVID-19 can cause.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for the 5 through 11 age group?
COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Before the vaccines were authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials.
About 3,100 children ages 5 through 11 received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials. Researchers found that the vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 through 11. No serious side effects were detected in the study.
Is it the same vaccine older kids and adults got?
The ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine are the same for kids in this age group, but the dosage is smaller. Kids ages 5–11 receive a dose that’s 10 micrograms, compared to the 30 micrograms dose for people 12 and older who receive the Pfizer vaccine. The lower dose was chosen to minimize side effects, but still prompt a strong immune response.
The needle used is also smaller, to accommodate the smaller arms of kids this age.
Otherwise, the process for this vaccine is the same for people of all ages. Your child will receive two doses, three weeks apart. They’re considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose.
What are the side effects like?
The most common side effects are similar to other age groups. This includes a sore arm, tiredness, headache, and muscle pain. These symptoms are usually mild.
In clinical trials, more children reported side effects after the second dose than after the first dose. Like adults, kids typically felt better in one to two days. If you have questions about side effects, it’s best to ask your child’s health care provider.
How do you address rumors your kid might be hearing about the vaccine from other kids?
The same way you would address any misinformation: remind them it’s not true. The child can share their own experience getting the vaccine. They can also ask a trusted adult — like a parent or teacher — for help.
How can I book an appointment?
Call your child’s pediatrician or health care provider to see if they offer the vaccine, or find a site through Vaccine Locator. Your child can even get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time they get other vaccines (like the flu vaccine).
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t get an appointment right away or need to contact a few health care providers. Initially, the COVID-19 vaccine doses for children may be limited. We expect supply to increase within a few weeks.
What should I do to prepare for an appointment?
- Go with your child to their appointment. You may need to provide consent to vaccinate someone under the age of 18.
- Bring a photo ID for your child if you have it. This is not required but recommended.
- Remember to book their second dose!
- Take a photo of their vaccine card or make a photocopy of it, and put the original card somewhere you won’t forget it. You can also sign up for WA Verify.
What should you watch out for after your child gets vaccinated?
It’s going to be similar to adults. Adults don’t always feel great for a day or two after getting vaccinated. We expect this and we are happy about it — this means our immune system is learning about COVID-19 and how to fight it. Potentially, since they are younger, they might feel worse. I would plan to have a cozy “pajama and tv” kind of day following the vaccination.
This blog is accurate as of the date of posting. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at coronavirus.wa.gov. You can also sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.
The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 5 and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.
WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today: WANotify.org
Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington State may be found on our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.