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November 8, 2021

The Importance of the Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine

The Importance of the Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine

The CDC has officially endorsed the ACIP recommendations that children ages 5 through 11 be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

This is much welcome news to parents and all families in our community. Although COVID-19 typically causes mild disease in young children, it has also resulted in hospitalizations, inflammatory syndromes (likely MIS-C), long term complications such as “long COVID” and, tragically, the deaths of 94 children in this age group. The good news: vaccine trials have demonstrated an effectiveness of over 90% in preventing COVID-19 infection in this age group, with only mild side effects in the vast majority of children.

Westmed is currently offering the vaccine to children ages 5-11 at two convenient office locations, including morning and evening hours during the week. The schedule may be currently full, so make sure to check back for available spots here.

Some additional important information to consider when bringing your child in for vaccination:

How is the vaccine administered? Does it matter if my child has a cold? The vaccine is administered as a 2-dose series, given 3 weeks apart. The only reason this vaccine would NOT be recommended is if the child has a known, severe allergy to another COVID-19 vaccine or any of the vaccine components. Generally, it’s better to avoid vaccinating a child with a fever, and any child with fever or cold symptoms should be checked for COVID-19 infection first. A child with a runny nose who does not have a fever, and is not known to have COVID-19 infection, is OK to get vaccinated. Additionally, children who are taking antibiotics may undergo vaccination.

Can my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine if s/he is allergic to medications or foods? YES. The overwhelming majority of children with medication and food allergies (even severe ones) do fine with the Pfizer vaccine. In kids who have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable medications, or who have severe food allergies, we recommend a 30-minute observation period after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. As always, the best answers to questions about your child’s specific health care needs lies with their pediatrician. At Westmed, we’re proud that our pediatricians are well-versed and up to date on the latest COVID-19 vaccine recommendations and safety data.

My child is at the higher end of the growth curve for his/her age. Will the dose in the pediatric vaccine be enough, or should I wait until s/he is in the older age group? The current FDA guidelines require vaccination based on age, not weight. So an 11 year old who falls into the height/weight range of a 13 year old would still receive the vaccine for ages 5 through 11.

What are the recommendations for kids who will be turning 12 after their first dose? Based on CDC guidance, children should receive a dose based on their age on the day of vaccination. For a child who celebrates her 12th birthday in the period between Dose 1 and Dose 2, she would receive the vaccine approved for the older age group for her second dose. This should not compromise the effectiveness or immunity obtained from the vaccine.

Can my child receive other vaccines on the same day as the COVID-19 vaccine, or is it better to wait? Although there is no need to space the COVID-19 vaccine apart from other vaccines, the Westmed COVID-19 vaccine clinic will only offer the Pfizer vaccine so that we can get out kids protected against this infection as quickly as possible.

Watch our recent Facebook LIVE in which Westmed Pediatrician Dr. Daniel Cohen answers common questions parents have about the COVID-19 vaccine and children.