What parents need to know about the Covid-19 vaccine for children under 5


CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Valensky approved the plan, clearing the way for a vaccine as early as next week.

Nearly 40% of respondents said they would “wait and see” before vaccinating their young children, 11% said they would only vaccinate their children when necessary, and 27% said they “wait and see” “Never” vaccinate their children against Covid-19.

Even parents who want to get vaccinated may have questions. How confident should they be in the FDA’s decision? When will vaccines be available for young children? How do families get these vaccines? Which vaccine is better, Pfizer or Moderna? If my child already has Covid-19, does he still need to be vaccinated? If my child is turning 5, should I wait?

I spoke with Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.she is also the author Lifeline: A doctor’s journey in the fight for public health and mother of two children under the age of 5.

The following dialogue has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

CNC: What do you think of the FDA’s decision?

Dr. Leana Wen: I am very happy and relieved. It’s been a year and a half since adults started getting the Covid-19 vaccine. About 17 million children are not yet eligible for the vaccine, and FDA approval is a major hurdle that needs to be cleared. I can’t wait to give my 2 year olds and nearly 5 year olds the same special protection that my husband and I have.

The FDA and its outside advisors followed a rigorous process to independently analyze the data submitted by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They found that three doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and two doses of Moderna’s vaccine were safe and produced strong immune responses comparable to the antibody responses in young adults. They also found that both vaccines reduced symptomatic infections in this young group.

I am reassured by the careful, careful and thoughtful process followed by this regulatory agency, and when the CDC approves, as I expected, I will be calling my pediatrician to get my two children vaccinated.

CNN: When do you think children under 5 will be vaccinated, and how should parents and caregivers get them?

magnifier: We know that CDC advisors are scheduled to meet on Friday, June 16th and Saturday, June 17th. Of course, I want a thorough discussion, but given the convincing data and the high levels of Covid-19 still circulating, the CDC may have a vaccine recommendation by the end of the week. States have been able to order vaccines, which means some doctors’ offices, community health centers, health departments and pharmacies can have stocks in stock and be ready to distribute them next week.

The first place I encourage parents to want to see is their pediatrician’s office. Parents are used to having their kids vaccinated there, and the pediatrician will know when and if they plan to get the Covid-19 vaccine. If they don’t plan to ship the vaccine, they may recommend other trusted places in the community.

You can also contact your local pharmacy, but be aware that many may not be able to provide vaccines for young children. Your city or county health department and state health department may also have resources, as may children’s hospitals in your area.

CNC: How will parents choose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for their children?

magnifier: Both vaccines are safe and both are effective. Preliminary results suggest that Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine is more effective at preventing symptomatic infections — although these are early studies — and that both vaccines induce high levels of antibodies that are associated with protection from severe disease in older adults.

I imagine there will be a variety of parental preferences here. Some parents are eager to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible. In this case, two doses of the Moderna vaccine may be preferable because the second dose is given 4 weeks after the first, and after two weeks their child will be considered fully vaccinated. If children start the series next week, they may be fully vaccinated by mid-August, in time for the next school year.

Some other parents may want their children to have the highest possible level of protection, even if it takes longer. Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine will definitely take longer. The first two doses were given three weeks apart, and the third dose was given two months after the second. So even if a child gets their first dose next week, they won’t be fully vaccinated against Pfizer until at least mid-September. Pfizer’s vaccine was also dosed lower than Moderna’s, and some parents may also prefer the latter, although the degree of possible side effects (such as fever, fatigue and irritability) associated with the different vaccines did not appear to vary. dose. .

Other parents may just want to give their kids everything they have access to first. I think all of these decisions are reasonable, assuming the CDC recommends both vaccines equally.

CNN: What about kids who have contracted Covid-19? Do they still need to be vaccinated?

magnifier: Yes. Vaccination after the infection has cleared provides longer-lasting and longer-lasting protection than treatment alone. I hope the CDC will address the question of how long children should wait to get vaccinated after recovering from the coronavirus at the meeting.

CNC: Should 5-year-olds wait for the highest dose or get vaccinated now?

magnifier: Here are other issues that the CDC may discuss at its meetings. I think they will follow the same advice that was used before for the 5 to 11 year old group, that 11 year olds (4 in this case) shouldn’t wait. Start the vaccination program now, and then when the child is 5 years old, he can get the highest dose. It’s also part of the clinical recommendations that I hope the CDC will discuss later this week.

CNN: What if parents are unsure about a vaccine and want to wait and see?

magnifier: I believe all parents want the best for their children. My best advice is to talk to your pediatrician, who you trust in other aspects of your child’s health guidance. Personally, I am very at ease with the thorough and painstaking process our federal regulators are following and look forward to providing my children with a safe vaccine to protect them from the coronavirus.

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