Ask the Expert: Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe for Children?
Dr. Lorna Fitzpatrick, pediatrician and Univera Healthcare Vice President of Medical Affairs has answers.
Q: Dr. Fitzpatrick, children are unlikely to have a severe case of COVID-19. Why should they get vaccinated?
Although most children will not get seriously ill from COVID-19, transmission and serious cases still happen. About 1 in 5 new cases of COVID-19 are in children. As activities outside the home resume, that number could rise even higher. Socialization is important for a child’s mental and social health. We want to reintroduce socialization as safely as possible.
Q: Will children have different side effects than adults? Should they stay home from school after getting the vaccine?
Children have had similar side effects as adults, including pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, fever and some aches and pains. Your child does not need to stay home after being vaccinated and can continue with their regular activities. But, if they don’t feel well or have a fever after the vaccine, it’s a good idea to let them stay home and rest.
Q: Should a parent be concerned about the vaccine affecting their child’s growth or development?
There is no indication that the COVID-19 vaccine will interfere with a child’s growth and development.
Q: What if a child has allergies?
Currently, the recommendation is that the vaccine should not be given to anyone who has a history of severe or immediate allergic reactions to vaccines. If your child is allergic to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine, they should not get it. Reach out to your child’s doctor for guidance.
Q: As a mother, are you comfortable with your children getting vaccinated?
I am. Each parent should make decisions for their own child. I researched the information, relied on experts, and made the decision that all my children should get vaccinated, and they all are.
Q: What would you say to a parent who is hesitant about vaccinating their child without having access to long-term studies?
I would encourage them to reach out to their child’s doctor to ask specific questions and share their concerns. I also recommend they seek out reputable, fact-based resources, such as the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your child’s doctor can help you sort through the information and make an informed decision.
Q: Any update on vaccines for children younger than 12 years old?
The vaccine is currently being studied in children as young as six months old. The hope is that it will be just as safe and effective as it is in children 12 and older and receive approval.