COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Oct 28

Allegro Pediatrics

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

by Allegro Pediatrics

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:

Our Chief Executive Officer, Brett Vandenberg, and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Amy Carter, recently hosted a webinar to discuss the authorization of the Pfizer COVID vaccine in 5-11 year old patients and answer frequently asked questions around vaccine safety and efficacy. View a recording here

Question: When will Allegro offer COVID vaccine for 5-11 year-old patients?

Answer: We were able to provide the Pfizer COVID vaccine to nearly 10,000 5-11 year old Allegro patients during our drive-thru event. We apologize to the families that were not able to book an appointment with us.

Question: Which vaccine are you offering?

Answer: We will be offering the Pfizer vaccine. It is the only one currently being considered for approval in this age group.  

Question: Do you have any tips for finding appointments in the community?

Answer: To the families that were unable to receive their vaccine at Allegro, our goal is to support you and provide resources for vaccine access in the community. Here are some tips:

  • Several pharmacies are partnering with local school districts. Reach out to your district for information on school and community vaccination events.
  • The WA Department of Health has added an option to filter your search by pediatric Pfizer doses and anticipates availability will begin to open up over the next several weeks.
  • University of Washington is offering the vaccine and your child can be added to their waitlist by calling the number on their website.
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital is offering pediatric 5-11 year old doses from 7:30am - 5pm on their main campus, by appointment only. If you need help finding appointment availability, please email COVIDCommunitySupport@seattlechildrens.org.
  • Pharmacies will begin receiving pediatric 5-11 year old doses this month.
  • We are working through the many logistics that will be required to be able to offer the vaccine in our clinics. Our current hope is that we will be ready in early 2022.

Question: When can my child get their COVID vaccine at a regular in-clinic appointment?

Answer: We are working closely with the WA state Department of Health and King County Public Health to bring this option into each of our clinics as soon as is safely possible. Unfortunately, the details of the Pfizer vaccine (storage, mixing, administration, and regulatory requirements for documentation) are more complex than the usual childhood vaccines. We hope to be able to offer this in early 2022.

Question: I have a scheduling conflict on the weekend you are offering COVID vaccines. Will you be offering more drive-thru events?

Please understand that we can only host this one mass drive-thru event at this time. If you cannot make our event on Nov. 13-14 or the second dose appointment on Dec. 4-5 for any reason, your child will have options in the community including through the public schools, at local pharmacies and at Public Health events. Vaccinate WA: Find COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Near You

Question: What if my child can't get the second dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine exactly 3 weeks after receiving their first dose?

We recommend your child get their second dose 3 weeks after the first, but if for any reason they cannot, know that 3 weeks is a minimum interval. You should schedule the second vaccine as soon as possible after 3 weeks.

Question: What do you recommend if my child is 11 years now but will be turning 12 years soon?

Answer: We advise that every patient get protected against COVID-19 infection as soon as they are eligible. As with many things COVID, new research is being released frequently. Friday, November 12 the CDC updated its recommendations to allow parents more choice. Any patient who gets their first dose when they are 11 years old then turns 12 years old before their second dose is now able to get either the 5-11 year old dose or the 12+ year-old dose for their second shot. Both doses are known to be effective.

Question: My child is medically complex. Is there anything I need to consider before getting them vaccinated against COVID?

Answer: No. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to safe for kids. Medically complex children are at highest risk for complications from COVID infection, so it is very important to ensure they are protected as soon as possible.

Question: My child has a history of allergies to food, the environment, or medicine. Is it safe for them to get this vaccine?

Answer: Yes. In Pfizer’s trial of 5-11 year old participants, none experienced a severe allergic reaction. When reviewing the data of the tens of millions of Pfizer vaccine given around the world, only a few patients in total has such a reaction. As a precautionary measure, we will be monitoring all patients for 15 minutes after they receive their COVID vaccine and will ask any patient with a history of severe allergic reactions (needing an Epi-Pen) to be observed by medical personal for 30 minutes after their shot.

Question: Should I wait until the Moderna pediatric COVID vaccine is available?

Answer: No. The Pfizer pediatric vaccine has proven to be safe and effective.  It is best to provide your child protection as soon as possible.  Our community is heading into the winter months and the holiday season where more families get together inside.  We know that the delta variant currently makes up 99% of all local COVID infections and spreads more easily inside.

Question: Is COVID infection actually impacting 5-11 year old children?

Answer: Yes! More than 1.9 million 5-11 year old children have been infected by COVID-19 during the pandemic. During Delta, there was a sharp increase in cases. Despite only making up 8.7% of the population, 5-11 year olds in the U.S. represented 10.5% of the cases in the week of October 10.

Secondary effects: COVID-19 in children leads to lost in-person learning and other adverse outcomes.

  • COVID-19 has caused 2,074 schools to close.  So far more than 1 million students and nearly 70,000 teachers have been affected.
  • The pandemic and closure of schools has led to an unprecedented rise in mental health distress among children and teens.  The American Academy of Pediatrics, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists, and Children’s Hospitals declared a National Mental Health Emergency in Youth.
  • Kids also significantly contribute to the spread of the virus. Secondary transmission from young school age children can and does occur in both household and school settings.

Question: Are kids really getting very sick from COVID-19 infection?

Answer: Just because adults tend to get far sicker than children, doesn’t mean that COVID-19 infection in kids is no big deal.

Hospitalizations: More than 8,300 children age 5-11 years have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. While many of the children suffering severe illness have underlying medical conditions such as obesity or asthma, nearly one-third of hospitalizations occurred among children who were otherwise healthy.

  • Starting in August, this age group had the highest rate of hospitalization since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Once hospitalized, 1/3 of kids ended up requiring intensive care.
  • Younger children appear to be most susceptible to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a serious condition occurring several weeks after COVID-19 infection that affects multiple organ systems (such as heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs) and can cause long-lasting effects. 
    • 5,217 MIS-C cases have been reported as of October 4, 2021.
    • 60-70% of MIS-C patients are admitted to ICU and 1-2% died.

Deaths:

  • At least 297 children have died of COVID-19. Of these, 94 were elementary school children.
  • A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that during August—September, COVID-19 was the sixth-leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 15. 

Long COVID-19: 7-8% of kids experience long-haul COVID-19.

  • This is one of several post COVID conditions that have been identified in kids. It often follows a mild or asymptomatic infection and is defined as any of the following symptoms occurring for more than 4 weeks: fatigue, headache, insomnia, trouble concentrating, muscle and joint pain, and cough.
  • There are also impacts on quality of life: Limitations of physical activity, feeling distressed about symptoms, mental health challenges, decreased school attendance/participation.

The vaccine significantly lessens the incidence of transmission, serious disease, hospitalizations, and death in all ages.

Question: Is it safer to wait and see if there are long-term side effects of the COVID vaccine?

Answer: No. In the history of vaccines, most serious side effects occur in the first month—really the first days and weeks—that a vaccine is given. The Pfizer vaccine has been studied for 2.2 to 3.3 months, during which time the vaccine was shown to be safe. While it is true that the number of children studied in the Pfizer trials is not large enough to detect an exceedingly rare side effect that might occur in 1 in 1 million children, this minimal risk exists with all medications invented.

We recommend that you do not wait because we believe the true risks of COVID infection far outweigh the minimal risks of COVID vaccine. In the history of medicine, it is much more likely that a virus (COVID infection) will trigger an autoimmune problem than a single protein delivered by a vaccine.

Question: What side effects can my kid expect from the vaccine?

Answer: The reason we had to wait so long for approval for younger children is that the vaccine companies have been studying a variety of lower doses to find the optimal match between providing protection while minimizing side effects. The Pfizer pediatric vaccine is one-third the adult dose, so the trials showed fewer of the temporary side effects that many adults and teens who got Pfizer vaccine experienced — such as sore arms, fever, fatigue, body aches, diarrhea, nausea, headache, or redness and pain at the injection site.

Question: Will my child be excluded from school due to vaccine side effects?

Answer: While there are some reactions that mimic illness, there is clear guidance that symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell can only come from COVID infection. If your child experiences any of those symptoms, your child should be tested. Symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle aches, diarrhea, nausea, and headache could be from either the vaccine or from infection so should be monitored at home. If these reactions self-resolve in 1-2 days, they are due to the vaccine and your child should return to school. If they continue past two days or worsen rather than improve, you should have your child tests or seen by a provider. If your child has soreness, redness, or swelling in the arm at the injection site, that can only be due to a strong immune response to the vaccine, in which case your child is not contagious so if they feel well enough, they should continue to attend school.

Question: My child already tested positive for COVID-19, should they still get vaccinated?

Answer: Yes, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated, even if you have already been sick with COVID-19. Early research suggests that even if you have had COVID-19, natural immunity may not last very long. Additionally, it is not known how long after being infected with COVID-19 you may be able to get it again, and reinfection has occurred in the community. Receiving the vaccine will better protect you from contracting the virus again. Here is some information on special situations that may impact the timing of receiving a COVID vaccine:

  • If your child had a known COVID-19 exposure: Wait for quarantine period to end before vaccinating
  • If your child is currently sick with COVID-19: Wait for illness to resolve and for the isolation period to end
  • If your child received monoclonal antibody: Wait 90 days from infusion to vaccinate to prevent inactivating the COVID-19 vaccine
  • If your child was diagnosed with MIS-C: Wait 90 days from hospital discharge

Question: Does my child need to delay regular vaccines if they get COVID vaccine?

Answer: No. Although the CDC initially recommended a 14-day waiting period between all vaccines and the COVID vaccine, it has since been proven to be safe when given at any time before or after any other vaccine, including the seasonal flu vaccine.

Question: When will other vaccine choices be available?

Answer: Clinical trials are underway, but not yet complete for the other COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna has an ongoing study of 13,000 children ages 6 months to 11 years. J&J has an ongoing trial for 12- to 17-year old adolescents.

Question: When will preschool age children be eligible?

Answer: The latest predictions from the vaccine trials is that children, at least 2-4 years old should be eligible in early 2022.

Question: Is it possible to get COVID from the COVID vaccine?

Answer: None of the approved COVID vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.

Question: Does my child have to continue wearing a mask and social distancing after they get vaccinated?

Answer: Yes. Please wear a mask indoors in public settings, even if fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent spreading it to others. Remember that outdoor gatherings are always safer than indoor social events.

Question: What do you recommend for pregnant or breastfeeding moms who are eligible to receive the COVID vaccine?

Answer: The CDC has released new data on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. It has been found that pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Receiving a COVID vaccine is the best way to prevent severe illness from COVID. There is currently no evidence that receiving the COVID vaccine causes fertility problems in women or men. We recommend you contact your obstetrician to discuss your individual risk factors.


MYTHS & FACTS:

We understand this pandemic has been incredibly stressful and you may be hearing conflicting information on COVID vaccines. Here are some myths about the COVID vaccines and information explaining why they are false.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility of miscarriage.

Fact: COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility or miscarriage. A disinformation campaign has been circulating online, claiming that antibodies to the spike protein of COVID-19 produced from these vaccines will bind to placental proteins and prevent pregnancy.

This information is not scientifically plausible. During a COVID-19 infection, the immune system creates the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. COVID-19 infection has not been linked to infertility. Therefore, there is no scientific reason to believe fertility will change after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Science has shown that while pregnant women are at a higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, there is no evidence of an increase in miscarriages. During a COVID-19 infection, the immune system creates the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. Therefore, if COVID-19 affected fertility, we would already be seeing an increase in miscarriage rates in women infected with COVID-19. This has not happened.

Myth: I shouldn’t get my child vaccinated because of reports of myocarditis and pericarditis following the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fact: COVID vaccines have been proven safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 illness in children 12+. There have been reports of mild cases of inflammation of the heart muscle and surrounding tissue called myocarditis and pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccination in children. The number of individuals affected by this rare side effect is very small, most cases are mild, and children often recover on their own without treatment. Additionally, health risks to the heart from COVID-19 illness can be much more severe. For more information, please read this statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Myth: There are severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine and potentially long-term health effects.

Fact: You may experience short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that go away without complication or injury. The most common side effect is pain or swelling on the arm where you received the shot. Other reported side effects include headache, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, or fever lasting day or two. Remember that these side effects are an indication that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and are common when receiving any vaccine. These temporary side effects are much less dangerous than a COVID-19 infection.

The approved COVID vaccines are continuously being monitored for safety. The history of vaccine use has shown that long-term side effects happen very rarely, if ever. If side effects are going to happen, they usually do within eight weeks of receiving a vaccine. This is why there are safeguards in place and manufacturers must wait at least eight weeks after clinical trials have ended before applying for Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.

V-safe is a tool developed by the CDC to help track any symptoms or adverse reactions to the COVID vaccines.

Myth: We can’t trust COVID-19 vaccines because they were rushed.

Fact: The first vaccines for COVID-19 were developed in record time. However, Operation Warp Speed did not “rush” in a way that would compromise safety. The approved vaccines have gone through the same research and approval process required for any new vaccine. They were reviewed by both the Federal FDA and a safety review group, as well as independent panels in several other countries. Each of these groups agreed on the approved use of the vaccines.

Myth: We can’t trust COVID-19 vaccines because they use new, mRNA technology.

Fact: The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines both use mRNA technology. While this is the first time it’s being widely used in a vaccine for the public, this type of vaccine has been researched for more than three decades. Watch this quick animation that explains how mRNA vaccines work! 

Myth: Since COVID-19’s survival rate is high, I don’t need a vaccine.

Fact: Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 45 million Americans have been infected and over 700,000 have lost their lives to COVID-19. 

It is difficult to predict which healthy person will have an extreme reaction to COVID-19 and end up in the hospital or worse. Additionally, we are still learning about the long-term risks of COVID-19 and it is reported that more than 75% of patients hospitalized with COVID still have symptoms 6 months later.

Myth: Since COVID-19 doesn't affect kids, I will get the vaccine but my child doesn't need it.

Fact: Although we are fortunate that most kids are only mildly affected by COVID infection, it is hard to predict which kids with robust immune systems may overreact and trigger Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) which has affected more than 4,000 American youth. At Allegro Pediatrics, we understand that a COVID vaccine for kids will further change the direction of this pandemic and be a crucial step in helping children return to a more “normal” lifestyle. Through vaccination, we can protect our children’s health and that of our extended families. We believe the vaccine will allow the majority of kids to experience in person schooling with less disruption, thus protecting their developmental, emotional, and social journeys.

Myth: It is safer to wait and see if the vaccine has any long-term side effects.

Fact: The evidence to-date is clear that the long-term risks of COVID infection are much higher than any possible long-term effects of the vaccine. Because the many COVID variants have spread to all parts of the world, it is just a matter of time before everyone will be exposed.  We know that while it was important to protect kids at home during the early part of the pandemic, the risks of ongoing isolation no longer outweigh the serious unintended consequences of mental health struggles, developmental delay, and for many kids, academic difficulties.

Myth: If everyone else gets the vaccine, I will be protected.

Fact: It will take all of us working together to beat COVID-19. Our community, schools, and economy will only open when herd immunity is reached. Experts believe we will need between 70-85% of the entire population be vaccinated in order to achieve immunity.

Myth: The COVID vaccines contain human cells, COVID-19 virus, animal by-products (including pork), egg products, latex, or preservatives.

Fact: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have reported that their vaccines do not contain preservatives. Additionally, none of the approved vaccines contain the live COVID-19 virus, animal by-products, egg products, or latex. The vaccines do contain basic elements that help them work better in the body including fat, salts, and sugars. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain the active ingredient, messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA is fragile and can break down easily. Storing mRNA vaccines in an ultracold environment keeps them stable and safe. You should not worry about the temperatures, as vaccines are thawed before injection.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccines could alter my DNA.

Fact: COVID-19 vaccines cannot alter your DNA. mRNA vaccines work by telling the cells in your body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA in a vaccine does not interact with the DNA in your body or do anything to the DNA in your cells. Additionally, your cells will break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they have finished using the mRNA, or instructions.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.

Fact: None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells nor were fetal cells used the development or production of either vaccine.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine was developed to control the general population either though microchip tracking or “nano-transducers” in our brains.

Fact: There is no vaccine microchip. The vaccine will not track you or gather personal information into a database. This myth started after Bill Gates from The Gates Foundation made comments about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner, and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.