By Guest Blogger Larry Givner, MD, Pediatric Infectious Disease, Brenner Children’s, Wake Forest Baptist Health
The FDA recently granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be given to children ages 12-15, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to affirm the FDA’s recommendation.
COVID-19 vaccination appointments available to anyone who is 12 years of age and older. Appointments are available by calling 336-70-COVID (336-702-6843). For more information on the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine visit BrennerChildrens.org.
As a parent, you want the best for your children. Throughout the pandemic, you have been working hard to protect your children and keep your family safe. Expanding vaccination to children is necessary to slow the spread of Covid-19, move the country beyond the pandemic and return to our usual activities.
Many people assume that because COVID-19 hasn’t been reported to be as severe in children, getting the vaccine isn’t as necessary as it is in older patients. COVID-19 infection isn’t always mild or harmless in children. Children with COVID-19 can develop severe issues from the virus so it is very important for your children ages 12 – 15 to get vaccinated. These complications may include:
- Lung problems that can lead to hospitalization, the need for your child to be in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and even death.
- Long-term symptoms in survivors that can include ongoing inflammation or neurological issues such as chronic headaches and brain fog.
- Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) is a consequence of the COVID-19 infection in adolescents, although it rarely occurs in younger children or older adults. It occurs a few weeks after the initial COVID-19 infection. It is a potentially severe condition that can affect many organs and result in damage to the kidneys, heart, brain and/or nervous system- it may even cause death. Many of these adolescents are admitted directly to an ICU suffering from poor heart function and shock.
The Phase 3 clinical trial to study this vaccine showed 100% effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 disease and robust antibody responses in children 12 to 15 years of age. No safety events were noted and post vaccination symptoms were similar to that of adults. Because so many older adults have been vaccinated, adolescents are now making up a larger per cent of those hospitalized with COVID-19. This demonstrates the effectiveness of the vaccine.
We were very happy to see the data showing this vaccine is safe and effective in this population and we urge families throughout our community to take advantage of these upcoming opportunities. Vaccination is the best way to protect ourselves, our community and those we love, and will play an important role in our ability to resume our usual activities this summer.
The symptoms following vaccination in some children are expected to be similar to what we have seen in adults. All of these symptoms are because the immune system is activated. The most common are fatigue (tiredness), headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. People can also get redness or pain at the injection site. We recommend that even children with chronic conditions such as asthma or cystic fibrosis get vaccinated. This is because their risk of severe COVID-19 infection is greater. If you have specific concerns, talk to your child’s doctor.
We are still learning how well vaccines work against variant strains however, so far, the mRNA vaccines appear to be just as effective against the U.K. variant. It also protects against serious infections and hospitalizations for the Brazil and S. Africa variants.
Wake Forest Baptist Health has COVID-19 vaccination appointments available to anyone who is 12 years of age and older. The COVID-19 vaccine is free, whether or not you have health insurance. Also, you do not need to be a patient of Wake Forest Baptist to make an appointment. Appointments are available by calling 336-70-COVID (336-702-6843), or visit BrennerChildren’s.org for more information.
*Sponsored by Brenner Children’s