Four weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Signed up for the COVID-19 vaccine for young childrenA few days later, doctors’ offices and clinics began rolling out injections for babies and toddlers.
In Portland, Oregon, a clinic featuring bubbles, toys and dance parties delivered more than 1,100 photos in two days. In Arizona, more than 2,000 children under the age of 5 received their first dose of the vaccine in about three weeks. During the same time period, a clinic in Fayetteville, Georgia, dispensed about 100 doses to young children.
As of July 14th, Nearly 400,000 children under 5 received at least one dose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. That’s about 2 percent of eligible children in this age group.
Eliza Hayes Bakken, a pediatrician, saw parents sign up for appointments as soon as a vaccine became available. “There’s a huge number of families looking to join the first cohort of vaccinated people,” said Bakken, a pediatric therapist at Oregon Health & Science University Dornbeck Children’s Hospital in Portland. She suspects that demand will decrease soon, following the pattern of pediatricians vaccinating older adults.
Getting young children vaccinated can be a long and slow process, says Adrianne Hammershaimb, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. About half of U.S. parents with children under age 4 say they are likely to get injections for their childrenher team last month in Journal of the Society of Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases. The number is “lower than we’d like, but that’s not surprising,” she said.
Only about 55% of U.S. adults surveyed said COVID-19 vaccination is very or very effective In limiting the spread of the coronavirus, the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., reported on July 7. In Hammershaimb’s experience, the problem isn’t that most parents are against vaccines or don’t trust all vaccines. Instead, “parents really care about the unknown,” she said.Have There are a lot of error messagesshe noted, people are trying to figure out what’s best for their kids.
As BA.5 continues to raise cases (now accounting for About 65% of new infections In the U.S.), parents are discussing COVID-19 risks, vaccine safety, and timing of vaccinations with doctors. Here, Hammershaimb and three other pediatricians answer some common questions they have.
Is COVID-19 really a problem for kids?
“It’s a big problem that we run into a lot,” Hammershaimb said.However, children are just as likely to get COVID-19 as adults Cases tend to be milder. Half of infected children may have no symptoms at all.
The disease also tends to be more lethal in adults than in children.Among people 55 and older, COVID-19 is Third leading cause of death in the United Statesscientists reported on July 5 JAMA Internal Medicine. But COVID-19 can also hit kids hard.it 8th among those 19 and under In the United States.
“You hear on TV that COVID is no big deal for kids. It’s kind of shocking,” said Sara Gossa, a Fayetteville, Georgia, pediatrician and 2020 president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In her practice, she sees long-term COVID and chronic fatigue in infected children. “This disease is not without complications,” she said.
Bakken’s 9-year-old son contracted COVID-19 in 2020 before a vaccine was available. His case wasn’t particularly serious, but it did have long-term ramifications. He had to take more medication to control his asthma and was extra careful when exercising. That might seem trivial, but her son doesn’t feel that way, Bakken said. “It affected his daily life.”
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Parents with young children vaccinated may see side effects similar to those commonly seen in other childhood vaccines. Fatigue, irritability, redness at the injection site - These are signs that the body is responding to the vaccine as it should, Bakken said. Some kids may not have side effects, and that’s okay, she said.
Vaccine safety is another topic that parents question (also recently Science News twitter poll). Clinical trials and real-world data show that these vaccines are safe for both children and adults, Bakken said. “Adverse events are extremely rare—much rarer than complications from COVID itself.”
take Myocarditis, a rare inflammation of the heart Occasionally appear after a Pfizer or Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.In boys 12 to 17 years old, myocarditis occurs About 10,000 people after vaccinationscientists on July 13 british medical journal.
But teenage boys are the most 6 times more likely to develop cardiac complications after contracting COVID-19 than after vaccination, CDC scientists reported in April. Cardiac complications after vaccination were more rare in young boys aged 5 to 11. In most people with myocarditis after vaccination, Symptoms improved rapidly and the heart fully recovered.
Hammershaimb is closely monitoring the surveillance systems of the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Tracking potential adverse events of vaccines. She said that if anything concerned arises, “we can intervene, stop the vaccination program, and look carefully at any reported cases.” Ultimately, she said, parents need to weigh the hypothesized risk of rare adverse effects against known COVID-19 infections 19 Risk of infection.
Should parents wait until fall to vaccinate their kids?
No, Hammershaimb said. She encouraged parents to enroll their children for vaccinations this summer so they can head into the fall with some coronavirus protections already in place.possibly is COVID-19 booster for omicron variants As the school year begins, there may be availability, but that doesn’t mean parents should wait, she said. “We want children to have as much protection as possible when they go back to the classroom.”
Sophie Katz, a pediatric infectious disease physician in Nashville, agrees. Although the ability of current vaccines to prevent omicron infection in children appears to be rapidly diminishing, Injections still effective for hospitalizationshe wrote in an article JAMA May editorial. A study of Israeli children vaccinated against Pfizer found that Two doses provided modest protection to the original omicron variantscientists in New England Journal of Medicine June 29.
Katz’s 13-month-old baby has been infected with COVID-19, but she said, “I’ll vaccinate her 100 percent.” For Katz, it’s a matter of protecting her baby from serious illness. “I will do everything I can to keep my daughter out of the hospital.”