Q & A for Parents: Bivalent COVID-19 Booster Vaccine
On Wednesday, October 12, 2022, Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the CDC, signed a “decision memo” expanding the use of an updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster for children from 5-11 years of age. Click here for more information.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 12 years of age and older be vaccinated against COVID-19. Their policy statement comes after the recent emergency authorization by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adolescents 12 years of age and older. The FDA authorization was followed by a discussion with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which included a review of data provided by clinical trials.
“The AAP recommends that all eligible children, teens, family and household members be vaccinated as soon as possible.”
A: Even though children have not been as sick as adults when infected with COVID-19, they still need protection against the disease. There are new variants and more in-person contact with others and the virus is still being passed from one person to the other. And children are still getting sick. More than 3.8 million children have been infected since the beginning of the pandemic. Many have been hospitalized and hundreds have died.
A: There are currently three different vaccines which have been approved by the FDA, the two doses Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has recently approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 years old and older.The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children 12 to 17 years of age. If your child is over age 18, in addition to Pfizer, one of the other two vaccines can be given (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson).
A: Before any vaccine can be given, clinical trials involving volunteers must be completed. The safety data collected by the FDA found all three of the vaccines to be very safe and effective for adults and children. All vaccines will continue to be closely monitored. According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines will have “the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history”.
A: Clinical trials are currently underway for children as young as six months of age. A vaccine for younger children will not be available until those trials are completed and all safety precautions are in place. Authorization by the FDA will also be required prior to distribution.
A: All research has told us that these vaccines are very effective in preventing COVID-19. The vaccines have also helped prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death in those who do get COVID-19, even after being vaccinated.
A: Yes, it is possible. If your child does get COVID-19 after being vaccinated, the vaccine helps reduce serious illness, hospitalization and even death in those who have been infected.
A: If your child receives the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, it will take about two weeks after the second dose of either of those vaccines to reach immunity. If your child receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it will take approximately 2-4 weeks to reach immunity.
Remember: If your child is between 12 and 17 years of age, the only vaccine currently available to that age group is the Pfizer vaccine.
A: Your child may have some short-term side effects after the vaccine. Some of the adolescents in the clinical trials had no side effects. Others had side effects which were like what adults experienced. The following is a listing of potential side effects:
As you prepare your child to receive a vaccine, you should tell them about these possible side effects.
A: It is important to include your child in a discussion about the vaccine, states Sally Goza, M.D., former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and local pediatrician. In an interview with NPR reporter, Mary Louis Kelly, Dr. Goza stated that children need “to understand why they are getting the vaccine, what the disease is, and what this vaccine does…”
Source: NPR: All Things Considered, May 11, 2021 Interview with Pediatrician Sally Goza, M.D., F.A.A.P.
A: You should schedule your child’s COVID vaccine as soon as possible.
A: You need make sure your child is up to date on all routine immunizations. The AAP supports giving other immunizations at the same time, so it is not necessary to wait until those are completed. If your child needs other immunizations, call your pediatrician’s office to schedule those now.
A: Call your pediatrician’s office to see if they have the COVID-19 vaccines and are scheduling appointments. Be sure to ask which vaccines they have available and remember the Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age.
A: Check with your local health department, vaccination clinic, pharmacy, community vaccination site, church, or school. Some sites may require an appointment, while others may not.
The important issue is to get your child vaccinated as soon as possible. You can call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 800-232-0233 to find a local COVID-19 provider. Or text GETVAX (438829) or VACUNA for Spanish (822862).
A: COVID-19 vaccines are free, whether you have health insurance or not.
A: According to the AAP, the following checklist will help you prepare:
Remember: Your child is fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) and 2-4 weeks after the single dose Johnson & Johnson. Children ages 12 to 17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine at this time.
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