COVID-19 vaccine and kids: Experts weigh in on parents’ questions

As Well being Canada opinions Pfizer-BioNTech’s software to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for teenagers aged 5 to 11, Canadian mother and father are divided on whether or not they would vaccinate their eligible kids if they might. requested mother and father whether or not they had been planning on vaccinating their kids within the occasion the vaccine is authorized to be used, and in addition invited readers to submit any questions that they had concerning the COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11.

Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric and infectious illness specialist and medical microbiologist on the Montreal Kids’s Hospital and McGill College Well being Centre, and Dr. Shazeen Suleman, a pediatrician at Unity Well being and an assistant professor on the Temerty School of Medication on the College of Toronto, answered a number of the most often requested questions. Listed below are their responses, which have been condensed for size:


Dr. Papenburg: What we all know to date is actually restricted to what data Pfizer has highlighted within the press launch: that it seems the vaccine is immunogenic – in different phrases it elicits the identical quantity of antibody response because the vaccinated recipients who’re adolescents or adults. And it seems to be protected, or actually, the aspect impact profile is likely to be even higher than for adolescents or adults.

The examine features a follow-up of over two months that was requested by the FDA. In vaccinology, what we all know is that the overwhelming majority of unwanted side effects happen inside the first week. There are some considerably delayed unwanted side effects that may happen, often inside six weeks, two months max.

These first outcomes which the FDA and Well being Canada are going to be basing their resolution on embody follow-up for 2 months. Actually, that’s actually a regular, affordable period of time for any anticipated aspect impact that might be related to a vaccine.

The FDA additionally requested for a further follow-up of as much as six months inside this examine, wanting particularly at security, which is ongoing.

The opposite factor about this vaccine (for kids 5-11) is that it’s 1/3 of the grownup or adolescent dose. It’s not unusual to have a pediatric formulation of precisely the identical lively ingredient or lively vaccine product that’s in a smaller dose in comparison with the shot for adolescents and adults. The identical factor is true in Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, in addition to in different vaccines.

The rationale for that’s we all know that youthful childrens’ immune techniques can present a extra strong response to a stimulus, similar to an antigen in a vaccine. Due to this fact we will “get away with a smaller dose” and but have the identical sort of ranges of safety as you want in greater doses for adults and adolescents.

That is doubtlessly helpful, as a result of when you could have a smaller dose then you definitely’re additionally probably coping with much less unwanted side effects, particularly the unwanted side effects that are likely to happen inside a number of days after the shot is run.

Dr. Suleman: I first need to validate {that a} mum or dad at all times desires what’s finest for his or her youngster and I understand how scary COVID has been for households. I might encourage each single household that does have a priority to speak to their youngster’s healthcare supplier. They may be capable to assist you decide that’s finest for you. Each mum or dad is coming from a spot of affection and concern, and we need to assist households make selections they’re comfy with.


Dr. Suleman: It’s necessary to keep in mind that something that’s going to be authorized by Well being Canada goes via the identical course of that every other remedy or vaccine has gone via. They don’t seem to be reducing any corners, with respect to reviewing the proof.

For COVID, it was a bigger world collaboration that allowed for work to be accomplished shortly. We will see the facility of collaboration, once we really work throughout nations, we share knowledge with each other, how shortly issues can occur once we try this. Up to now, that has not at all times occurred.

Dr. Papenburg: The quantity of scientific and public well being scrutiny that the COVID-19 vaccines have been beneath is unprecedented.

From a scientific perspective (mRNA vaccines) are nonetheless a younger and rising instrument, however in different methods probably not, in any respect. I don’t assume anyone within the lay public knew about them earlier than COVID, however Moderna had already been engaged on mRNA vaccines for a decade earlier than the pandemic. The mRNA know-how is one thing that has been studied in people for 20 years.


Dr. Suleman: With newer variants of concern, physicians are seeing extra circumstances of kids with COVID. A few of these circumstances are asymptomatic and a few of these circumstances are delicate. However a few of these circumstances are kids who do get severely ailing. Even when it’s just one or two circumstances, you don’t know if it will likely be your youngster.

There’s additionally the multi-system inflammatory response to COVID referred to as MIS-C, and a few kids have died from that. We additionally know vaccination in opposition to COVID reduces the unfold in the neighborhood for people who find themselves in danger for extreme COVID (the aged, people who find themselves immuno-compromised and individuals who can’t get vaccinated).

Vaccination additionally helps cease the unfold of different variants of concern from rising, and we don’t know if there can be a variant of concern that does have an effect on kids. I might ask that households additionally contemplate this when interested by their particular person risk-benefit and their group risk-benefit.


Dr. Suleman: I bear in mind a time once we used to consider hen pox that means. Though most kids who bought hen pox through pure immunity had been superb, there have been some kids who died and there have been some kids who bought severely ailing. There have been additionally different immuno-compromised people who bought extraordinarily ailing when uncovered to a toddler with hen pox.

Now we’ve a vaccine (for hen pox) and we will preserve extra individuals protected, and that doesn’t need to occur. Once more, I might ask individuals to have a look at their communities, and take into consideration how our well being is all related.


Dr. Suleman: I need to acknowledge that it is a tough state of affairs. I need to reiterate that each mother and father are coming from a spot of concern. Recognizing that may assist open up conversations to know the place every mum or dad is coming from.

My steering could be for households to consider their youngster’s healthcare supplier as somebody who might help reply questions and be concerned in these discussions. I might encourage being open and receptive to listening to totally different views, and keep in mind that everyone seems to be coming from a spot of affection. Dad and mom care about their youngster, and if somebody is worried, that’s love manifesting as concern, so how can we assist perceive and assist unpack that?


When put the decision out to folks, we acquired tons of of emails and feedback. Here’s a roundup of the responses, highlighting a number of the most typical questions and considerations:


The primary causes individuals stated they plan to vaccinate their youngsters when attainable embody defending their kids in opposition to COVID-19 and hoping to renew common life and actions.

“It has been unnerving sending my 5 12 months outdated to kindergarten this 12 months counting on insufficient public well being measures to maintain him protected,” wrote Tamara Mendez in an e-mail to

Lauren Crane, in southern Ontario, shared related views in an e-mail. “I’ve been making an attempt so exhausting to (preserve) each of my asthmatic youngsters protected from COVID and I really feel that after they’re vaccinated I’ll lastly be capable to breathe a sigh of aid,” the e-mail stated.

“For our household, this appears like the ultimate step to feeling ‘protected’ once more round individuals. We even have high-risk family and friends and need to do every part to guard everybody round us.”

Nandini Raj, from Calgary, stated she hopes that the vaccine would possibly assist her 10-year-old daughter, who she stated contracted the Delta variant of COVID-19 at summer season camp. Nandini stated her daughter nonetheless has “fluctuating chest pains,” regardless of recovering from her different COVID signs.

“She has at all times been lively, cheerful and with excessive spirits,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Her life took a detour by which we can not predict which path she goes every day. I’m very hopeful that the vaccine will assist her.”

Different respondents stated that they had religion within the scientific evaluate course of and famous that they’ve vaccinated their youngsters in opposition to different sicknesses together with measles, mumps, rubella and polio.

“My youngster is afraid of vaccines and my spouse and I method this topic via compassion and understanding,” scientist Bruce Doran wrote in an e-mail from Sudbury, Ont.

“We remind her that the vaccine will shield her from COVID-19, will shield her grandfather, her household her associates and she is going to be capable to do her after-school actions.”


A few of the main causes individuals stated they aren’t planning on vaccinating their kids embody a worry of unwanted side effects, and a perception that the danger of COVID-19 in kids is smaller than the danger of giving them the vaccine.

“Whereas each my husband and I selected to be vaccinated, with regards to our kids, we’ve considerations and we want extra data,” Pam Andreasen, from Calgary, wrote in an e-mail. “With the extraordinarily low danger that COVID-19 continues to pose to kids, we don’t really feel that vaccinating our kids is critical.”

Liz Levac, from Puslinch, Ont., stated she is “extraordinarily” involved concerning the attainable unwanted side effects of vaccinating her youngsters, particularly her 15-year-old son who has a coronary heart situation.

“We don’t know the long-term results and new data retains popping out,” she wrote. “I cannot be getting this vaccine for my kids and I feel it’s utterly unsuitable mandating it for kids. They don’t seem to be flooding our hospitals and have younger wholesome our bodies to combat this virus. Go away our youngsters alone!”

Jennifer Small, from Toronto, had related emotions. “Onerous no to vaccinate 5-11 12 months olds,” she wrote. “The danger is minimal for teenagers in relation to COVID. Why would I inject them with a vaccine that we nonetheless don’t know the long-term results of?”

Shawna Chicilo wrote: “What’s unsuitable with Canada? In kids who don’t fall ailing from COVID in any case, the danger to profit equation of the vaccine doesn’t add as much as me as their mother. “The whole idea of pure immunity is being ignored.”

Many readers pointed to the latest change in Ontario vaccination pointers for individuals between the ages of 18-24. Now, Ontario is prioritizing the Pfizer vaccine for this age group, as a consequence of an noticed enhance of the uncommon coronary heart situation myocarditis related to the Moderna shot.

Many stated they didn’t really feel comfy with the two,268-participant pattern measurement of the Pfizer vaccine trial for kids 5-11, or the velocity at which the trial was performed. Many additionally stated they felt there isn’t sufficient knowledge on the long-term results of the vaccine.

“I don’t plan on vaccinating my kids,” wrote Amy Steuernol in an e-mail. “To be sincere, I merely don’t belief the federal government or the pharma corporations at this level.”

Derek Woodford, from Sudbury, Ont., wrote in an e-mail: “There is no such thing as a means I might even contemplate vaccinating my youngster with the COVID-19 vaccine. We now have no data on long-term results of the vaccine and won’t for at the very least a decade.”

(NOTE: On the time of writing, Well being Canada was reviewing the appliance from Pfizer-BioNTech for its vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11 and a choice had not but been made.)

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