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.
Answer: Children 5-11 years old are currently eligible to receive the pediatric Pfizer vaccine. Adolescents 12+ are currently eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine and a booster dose 5 months after their first vaccine series.
Answer: We are planning to begin offering the COVID vaccine to patients 5+, including booster doses for those 12+, at scheduled Well Child Check-ups and follow-up appointments this Spring.
Answer: We will be offering the Pfizer vaccine. It is the only one currently being considered for approval in this age group.
Answer: Our goal is to support you and provide resources for vaccine access in the community. Here are some tips:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Long COVID-19: 7-8% of kids experience long-haul COVID-19.
The vaccine significantly lessens the incidence of transmission, serious disease, hospitalizations, and death in all ages.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Answer: The latest predictions from the vaccine trials is that children, at least 2-4 years old should be eligible in early to mid 2022.
Answer: None of the approved COVID vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fact: None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells nor were fetal cells used the development or production of either vaccine.
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.