Since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 and older, American parents have been faced with the decision about whether or not to get their children vaccinated. Many parents are still unsure about the safety and efficacy of these shots, leading to a degree of vaccine hesitancy where children are concerned. Here’s what you should know to make an informed decision for your child’s health and wellness.
What Are the CDC’s Current Recommendations?
At present, the CDC recommends vaccination against COVID-19 for all children ages 5 and older. The CDC’s guidance currently applies only to primary vaccinations, as booster shots are approved exclusively for adults. No vaccine has yet been approved for those in the 0-4 age group.
While the CDC recommends that children are vaccinated, it’s important to recognize that only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for pediatric use. An age-appropriate dose of this vaccine is recommended for the 5-11 age group, while children ages 12-17 receive the adult dose. As of the time of this writing, neither the Moderna nor Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for use in children.
There are a number of important reasons for children to get vaccinated. Although they are at lower risk than adults, children are not immune to developing severe illness. Children can also suffer from the long-term effects of the disease. Furthermore, even if they don’t become severely ill, children can transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. As a result, vaccination is important both for your child’s health and for controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Data on Children’s Health and the COVID-19 Vaccine
As in adults, vaccines have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalizations among children. During the period from June to August of 2021, the CDC observed 10 times more hospitalizations among unvaccinated adolescents than those who were fully vaccinated. Vaccines also have high efficacy rates in younger children, with reductions in infections of more than 90 percent observed among vaccinated children in the 5-11 age range.
Although two health conditions, myocarditis and pericarditis, have been identified in association with the COVID-19 vaccine, both remain very rare. Approximately 54 cases of myocarditis occur for every 1 million doses administered among males ages 12-17. Most patients who experience these side effects respond well to treatment and recover quickly. It is important to note that the risk of myocarditis from COVID-19 infection is significantly higher than the risk from the vaccine. Children may also experience allergic reactions to the vaccine, though these are also quite rare.
Is the Vaccine Safe for Immunocompromised Children?
If your child is immunocompromised due to other medical conditions, navigating the vaccination question may seem more complicated. The CDC recommends vaccination for both moderately and severely immunocompromised children. For immunocompromised children ages 12 and up, an additional dose of the vaccine is recommended. This additional dose is not, however, currently recommended for children 11 or younger.
As you can see, an age-appropriate dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can help protect your child’s health as the pandemic continues. Schedule an appointment today with your child’s doctor to discuss the vaccine.