May 24, 2021
Clinical contributors to this story
Kevin A Slavin, MD contributes to topics such as Pediatric infectious diseases.
Sejal Bhavsar, MD contributes to topics such as Pediatric infectious diseases.
In the United States, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has now been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in children 12 to 15 years old. This same vaccination had already been authorized for children aged 16 and over.
While this can be good news for many parents, you may have questions before you are ready to book your child for a date. We reached out to experts at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health to get your questions answered:
How does COVID-19 affect children?
While COVID-19 causes mild illness in most children, some children have more serious illness requiring hospitalization for treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which can affect multiple organs, including the heart. Some children may also have a “long COVID” with symptoms that persist for months after infection, including extreme fatigue, “brain fog”, breathing problems and body aches.
The vaccine can prevent infection and should reduce the risk of all of these problems from COVID-19.
Should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?
In general, yes. However, there may be times when you and your child’s doctor make a different decision. After rigorous research, the COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 years and older is safe and effective. Vaccination, along with social distancing and masking, will allow children to return to school, sports and other activities.
What are the possible side effects of the vaccine in children?
Research has shown that children receiving the vaccine have reported side effects similar to adults, including temporary pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and, less commonly, fever, chills. , nausea and joint pain. Side effects usually last 1 to 3 days and may be more likely after the second dose. As in adults, Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should not be given to anyone with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine.
Do I have to wait until my child receives the vaccine to make sure there are no long-term side effects?
Although long-term side effects are unknown at this time, they are unlikely to occur. COVID-19 vaccines have been cleared for distribution to millions of people since December 2020 with no long-term side effects identified.
What vaccines are currently available for children?
Only Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination is permitted for children 12 years of age and older.
My child had COVID-19, should he still get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC recommends vaccination even if you have had the COVID-19 infection before, because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from a new disease after your recovery from COVID-19. If your child hasn’t had recent symptoms related to COVID-19, talk to their doctor about the best time to schedule the COVID-19 vaccine.
Next Steps and Resources:
The material provided by HealthU is intended to be used for general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your doctor for individual care.