Everything you need to know about kids and Covid-19 Vaccine

Clinical trials show the vaccine is safe and effective with no serious safety concerns

Questioning some ill informed reports that Covid-19 isn’t really serious for kids, an Indian American health expert says vaccination can help protect children from getting seriously sick.

Clinical trials with thousands of children show the vaccine is safe and effective with no serious safety concerns, says Dr A Sharma, an Assistant Professor at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine at Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“Everyone ages five years and older should get a Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible,” he says. “As a vaccine provider, making a strong recommendation is critical for Covid-19 vaccine acceptance and protecting children’s health.”

Read: Vivek Murthy wishes vaccines for kids under 5 were available (February 17, 2022)

Dr Sharma graduated from MIMER Medical College, Pune. He went on to complete his residency in Internal Medicine and Fellowship in Infectious Disease from the State University of New York Upstate Medical University at Scranton.

He s active in the medical and local community regarding education of the community members about Covid-19 vaccines. Here Dr Sharma talks to the American Bazaar on everything that you may need to know about how Covid-19 vaccination can help children.

AB: There have been reports that Covid-19 isn’t even really serious for kids. What would you say as an expert?

AS: Covid-19 can make children very sick. Some children with Covid-19 need to be hospitalized and some children have died. Children can also develop serious complications like multisystem inflammatory syndrome  multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) —a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. And some children can develop post-Covid complications (also called long-Covid).

AB: Why do children need to be vaccinated?

AS: Covid-19 can be serious in children. Vaccination can help protect them from getting Covid-19 and help keep them from getting seriously sick if they do get infected and help protect siblings who are not eligible for vaccination, as well as other vulnerable family members. Covid-19 vaccination can also help keep kids in school and help them safely participate in sports, have playdates, and other group activities.

Read: Everything that you want to know about Covid-19 vaccines (May 18, 2021)

AB: Is it safe for children to get vaccinated against Covid-19?

AS: Scientists have conducted clinical trials with thousands of children, and the results show the vaccine is safe and effective. In the clinical trials, no serious safety concerns were identified and the side effects that were reported were mild, didn’t last long, and similar to those experienced after routine vaccines.

The safety of Covid-19 vaccine continues to be monitored. You can help efforts to monitor the safety of the vaccine by enrolling your children in V-safe, a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to check-in after vaccination.

AB: What are the vaccine’s side effects?

AS: Side effects in children may include a sore arm, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and fever. These are normal signs that their body is building protection and should go away in a few days. Some children don’t have any side effects.

Read: We must share Covid-19 vaccines with those who are less fortunate (January 30, 2022)

AB: What should one do if a child has side effects after vaccination?

AS: If your child has a fever or achiness after vaccination, you can give them a non-aspirin pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help them feel better.

If they have pain at the injection site, placing a clean, cool washcloth on the area can help. It is not recommended that you give pain relievers before vaccination to prevent side effects. In general, aspirin is not recommended for use in children and adolescents less than 18 years of age.

AB: Which Covid-19 vaccine is given to children?

AS: The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is currently the only vaccine that children ages five through 17 years can get. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages five through 11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults and adolescents.

However, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that is given to adults and adolescents cannot be used for children ages five through 11 years.

The vaccine for children comes in a different vial with a different color cap to make it clear which vaccine is for children ages five through 11 years and which is for people 12 years and older.

Read: COVID Vaccine: What Parents Need to Know (January 10, 2022)

AB: What is the difference between the doses for children and adults?

AS: Unlike many medications, Covid-19 vaccine dosage does not vary by patient weight but by age on the day of vaccination. Children ages five through 11 years get an age-appropriate dose.

Just like for adolescents and adults, children ages five through 11 years will receive two doses of the vaccine three weeks apart. At this time, the effective dose of children under five has not been finalized.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are solely of the individuals concerned and do not reflect the opinion of their respective employers. The information provided does not constitute medical advice and individuals should consult their health care providers for individualized medical recommendations.

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