Almost two-and-a-half years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, young children – from 6 months old to age 5 – are finally now eligible for a vaccine. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration have endorsed the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech options. But even Moms who have been waiting years for this news have questions they need answered as they make plans for their families. We spoke to pediatrician Dr. Krissy Satchi, and asked her the most common questions we’re hearing:
Do you recommend the vaccine?
Yes. As a pediatrician who has seen the extreme effects of Covid-19, without hesitation I recommend vaccinating. Many children may have just mild symptoms; however, a subset of these perfectly healthy kids will go on to require hospitalization for more severe symptoms, and rarely, some will not survive.
The most serious consequence of Covid that we see is MIS-C, also known as Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome. In children this is a serious and potentially life- threatening after effect of Covid-19 infection. Thankfully, the Covid-19 vaccine protects against these complications. Vaccines are also effective in lowering transmission to those immunosuppressed, including babies, elderly (think grandparents!), and those who cannot get vaccinated. It is a simple step we can take to protect our kids and each other.
Which vaccine do you believe is better – Pfizer or Moderna?
Both vaccines are highly effective at preventing complications and lowering disease transmission when 2 doses are administered at the recommended interval.
Will this be an annual vaccine? Do you think kids will need boosters even after vaccinating?
It could be! We don’t have that exact answer right now. It depends on a lot of factors, like how Covid variants are changing and how we continue to respond to the current available vaccines. It may very well become like our annual flu shot with a vaccine protecting against different strains each year.
How concerned are you about side-effects, including myocarditis?
Side effects in kids have been mild, most bouncing back between 24-48 hours. The most common side effects are site soreness, muscle aches, fever, or fatigue. Out of the millions of children vaccinated around the world there have been no deaths or serious complications from a child getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
In fact, myocarditis from Covid-19 infection is actually far MORE likely than from the vaccine! The cases caused by the vaccine have been VERY rare, and were considered mild, most of which resolved completely on their own. In fact, the AAP SOCCS (American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery) has urged parents to vaccinate to prevent COVID-19 myocarditis.
How long does protection last – and should this affect when you get the vaccine?
Both vaccines have shown efficacy well into the 6 month mark post vaccination, as opposed to post-Covid infection with which immunity wears off after about 3 months.
Since we see a rise in Covid cases in the colder months, it would make sense to get the vaccine closer to September to provide the maximum efficacy throughout the school year. However if you have a young child (under 5) or one who is at higher risk, I would advise on getting them vaccinated sooner than later.