Parents COVID Questions

Q & A for Parents: COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 12 years old and older.  

May 18, 2021

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 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.”

Source:.healthychildren.org

 

The following is a list of common questions you may have as a parent about
the vaccines and the benefits to you and your family.

 

Q: Why should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

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.

 

Q: I do want to protect my child from COVID-19. What vaccine is available for children?

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).

 

Q: How do I know the vaccine is safe for my child?

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”.

 

Q: When will there be a vaccine for younger children?

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.

 

Q: How do I know the current vaccine will work for my child?

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.  

 

Q: Can my child still 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.

 

Q: How long does it take for my child to reach immunity after getting a vaccine?

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.

 

Q: What are the side effects of the COVID-19 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:

  • Pain, redness, and swelling at the site of injection
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Pain in muscles

As you prepare your child to receive a vaccine, you should tell them about these possible side effects.

 

Q: How else can I prepare my child for the COVID-19 vaccine?

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.

 

Q: When should I schedule my child’s COVID-19 vaccine?

A: You should schedule your child’s COVID vaccine as soon as possible.

 

Q: My child needs other immunizations now, should I wait until those are completed?

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.

 

Q: Where can I get a COVID vaccine for my child?

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. 

 

Q: If my pediatrician’s office does not have the vaccine for my child, where can I take my child to be vaccinated?  

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).

 

Q: How much will it cost to get my child vaccinated?

A: COVID-19 vaccines are free, whether you have health insurance or not.

 

Q: What else do I need to do to prepare for my child’s COVID-19 vaccine?

A: According to the AAP, the following checklist will help you prepare:

  • Call your pediatrician’s office with any questions you may have.
  • Check to see that your child’s immunizations are up to date. If not schedule those at the same time.
  • Schedule your child’s appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • When your child receives the first dose, schedule the appointment for the second dose at that time. (If your child is 18 or older and receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will not need a second appointment)
  • Keep the vaccination card you receive in a safe place. You might want to take a picture of it or make a copy.
  • Do not laminate the card as additional information will be added after the second dose.
  • Do not share your child’s vaccine card on social media.
  • After the second dose, make a copy or take a photo and keep in a safe place. If your child did not get the vaccine in the pediatrician’s office, be sure to send a copy to the office. This information can be included in your child’s medical record. You may also need to send a copy to your child’s school.

 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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