Little kids’ COVID vaccines, June 22, 2022:
We made it through the school year (and our gloomy spring) and dare I say things are looking a little rosier right now. Yes, we’re still contending with COVID and expect to be for a long time. But the good news is the FDA has recommended two COVID-19 vaccines for use with children ages 6 months and older. The expansion of availability of these vaccines gives us another safe, effective tool to protect our families.
Keep on going Seattle, you’re doing great!
As always, thank you so much for your great questions. Keep them coming. (Got a question for Dr. Block? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency use authorization for two available COVID-19 vaccines for all children 6 months or older: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. This means babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can get protected in addition to those 5 years old and up.
I know for some this can’t have come soon enough. Whether or not you’ve been refreshing your news feed every day in hopes of vaccines for your little ones, you might still have questions now that the vaccine is available for younger children.
Little kids’ COVID-19 vaccines: Q&A
Does COVID-19 vaccine protection outweigh any risk?
The biggest question I hear from parents is whether we know enough about this vaccine for it to be used broadly. I say: this is not different from any new vaccine or any medication that we already use to keep our kids safe and healthy. All of them are issued based on positive data in studies, and many of those studies are actually smaller than what we’re using for COVID vaccines.
These vaccines first went through extensive trials and widespread use in adults. Before we even looked at them in kids, we had an extremely good sense for how people who are older respond. We know kids aren’t little adults, so there were also several clinical trails studying this age group and other ages, and the studies demonstrated that the known and anticipated benefits outweigh any known risks in this age group too.
Although young children are less likely to have severe disease than adults, with COVID-19 continuing to circulate in our communities, we unfortunately will still see children who are hospitalized with infection or complications. COVID-19 vaccination greatly reduces the risk of severe illnesses, hospitalizations, and death, including in children.
Do we still need to vaccinate our kids against COVID after all this time?
It’s a fair question, and the simple answer is yes.
We know that COVID is going to stay. Hopefully we’re nearing the end of a current peak, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see another one this year. Because the virus changes, we can’t really know what is coming. The COVID vaccine might not entirely prevent infections, but it does a very good job keeping you and your loved ones from severe illness.
Even if your kiddo already had COVID, it’s important that they still get vaccinated. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. At this time, experts don’t know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering. If you or someone in your family had COVID and you delay vaccination or boosters, you should know that the risk of reinfection may rise over time.
Should parents vaccinate/boost their children now, or wait until back to school?
I also hear this question from parents a lot. As a pediatrician, I’ve never recommended that parents wait on vaccinating their children, and so much of what our fall looks like depends on the action we take to prevent COVID now.
Talk to your pediatrician and keep your kids safer
Having conversations about vaccines and safety is good; the important thing is that these discussions are happening. Ask your pediatrician about any questions you still have, and while you are there, make sure your kids are all caught up on other vaccines as well.
At the end of the day, the single best thing you can do is make sure you and your family are vaccinated. You should also keep taking every step possible to not catch COVID in the first place. When you’re in crowded places and indoor spaces, it’s still prudent to wear a mask. So much of our effective fight against COVID depends on the action that we take now to get vaccinated, boosted, and build our immunity.
We’re all looking forward to a safe, happy summer doing what we love with the people we love. This can help us get there a little faster.