Children ages 12 and up are now eligible to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to consider this protection for their children.
“It is natural for parents to have questions about COVID-19 vaccination,” said Lake Regional Pediatrician Kimber Guinn, D.O., who cares for infants, children and teens at Lake Regional clinics in Lake Ozark and Lebanon. “I encourage them to bring those questions to their child’s doctor. There is research to help parents make informed decisions.”
In the following Q&A, Dr. Guinn answers some common questions that parents have.
Q: Is it safe to get my child vaccinated?
A: Before deciding to expand Pfizer's emergency use authorization, FDA reviewed evidence from ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials in adolescents. Safety data came from a clinical trial with thousands of kids aged 12 through 15, with half of them receiving the vaccine. To see how well the vaccine worked, FDA looked at immune responses in the kids who received the vaccine. And they watched for COVID-19 cases among all kids in the study.
Just like the original trial with adults, the vaccine was determined to be safe and effective. It caused an immune response that was at least as good as the immunity seen in people ages 16 to 25. What's more, it was 100% effective at preventing COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, which includes studies in adolescents.
Q: Children and teens are less likely to get sick from COVID-19, so why do they need vaccinated?
A: Although COVID-19 does not pose the same risk to healthy children as it does to adults, it is not a harmless illness for kids. Thousands of children in the United States have gotten very sick from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
Just like adults, children and teens also can transmit the infection to others, but vaccination is one way to help keep the community safe. According to the CDC, a growing body of evidence indicates that people fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine, either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, are less likely to have asymptomatic infection or to transmit COVID-19 to others.
Q: What are the side effects?
A: Most side effects are mild. The most common side effects from the vaccine are like those seen in older teens and adults. And they go away after a few days. They include:
- A sore arm where the shot was given.
- Muscle pain.
- Joint pain.
The CDC has received increased reports of myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents and young adults after COVID-19 vaccination. However, they continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for individuals over 12 because the known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.
Q: Can my child receive other vaccines at the same time?
A: Your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine, at the same visit or without waiting 14 days between vaccines.
Q: How do I get my child an appointment?
A: Anyone age 12 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine through a Lake Regional primary care clinic. There is no cost to any patient for the vaccine or office visit. To make it easier, the clinics created a vaccination schedule. Visit lakeregional.com/vaccine to see the schedule and find out what vaccines are currently available at each clinic. The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose series and a parent or guardian will need to be present for both appointments.
To learn more about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, visit lakeregional.com/vaccine.