If you are the parent of a young child who has not yet been immunized against COVID-19, you are not alone. In the United States, only 16% of children 5 to 11 years old are fully immunized and 25% partially vaccinated, according to January 3 data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts say now is the time to change that. As COVID-19 continues to spike nationwide, low vaccination rates in this age group have resulted in record high number of hospitalizations. COVID-19 vaccine prevents serious illness and reduces morbidity Kawasaki disease (also known as Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C), a potentially life-threatening condition. Among child health experts, the consensus is to get your child vaccinated as quickly as possible. The best way to keep them healthy during the pandemic. Vaccines also very rarely cause serious side effects for children from 5 to 11 years old.
Since children 5-11 years of age are given a smaller dose of the vaccine — 10 mg instead of the 30 mg dose that older children and adults receive — parents often wonder if they should delay getting the shot. vaccine at the age of two years until eligible to receive a larger dose. That’s a question Dr. Kristin Moffitt, an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a physician and pediatric infectious disease researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, says she’s always had the attention of her father. patient’s mother.
Should your child wait until age 12 to get the full dose or take a smaller dose now?
The short answer: “Get whatever vaccine your child is eligible for as soon as possible,” says Moffitt. “There doesn’t seem to be much immunological benefit to waiting.”
Data from Phase 3 clinical trials for children 5 to 11 years old show “excellent” immune responses, Moffitt said; this remained true when the researchers divided the participants into different age groups and compared their immune responses. Even 5- and 6-year-olds have very similar immune responses to 10- and 11-year-olds. The researchers also compared 10- and 11-year-olds with 12- to 15-year-olds who received larger doses, and found that their responses were “extremely similar,” she said. .
The vaccine trials included children in various stages of development, including before and after puberty. “We’re still seeing great immune responses across those ranges,” Moffitt said.
The “Forest fires” spread COVID-19 Moffitt says right now is another very good reason to get your kids vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines take time to provide protection, and the earlier children are vaccinated, the sooner they are protected from serious illness. They will even have a lower chance of getting the virus right from the start.
If my child is older for their age, will they get better with a larger dose?
The risks of leaving your child unvaccinated to turn 12 outweigh the benefits — even if it’s only for a short period of time or if your child is older, says Moffitt.
Because 10 and 11 year olds tend to vary greatly in their growth and size, a wide range of weights and heights have been shown in the Phase 3 clinical trial, Moffitt explained. Given the strong immune response in the age group, “it shows that what we already know about vaccines is indeed true: they are not weight dependent on the expected response from a given dose.” ,” she said. “The response actually has more to do with how mature their immune system is.”
If my child gets an age-appropriate dose, will they be able to “upgrade” and get the full booster dose when they turn 12?
Only authorized person booster injection for children is the full 30 mg dose from Pfizer-BioNTech, as boosters are not approved for use in children under 12 years of age. While that could change in the future if a smaller dose is approved, for now, the larger injection is the only option. And since the COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old was just approved in October, you still have some time to wait: The CDC also recommends waiting at least 5 months before getting a booster shot.
What are the limitations of waiting to vaccinate my child?
Your child will be more likely to get the virus and will be more likely to get very sick from the infection. Even after they are immunized, they will not receive full protection from their course of vaccine until two weeks after receiving the shot.
Waiting to get your child vaccinated can also make the experience more upsetting. Moffitt noted that children ages 5 to 11 tend to experience fewer and milder side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine than 12-15 year olds, possibly because of the smaller doses they receive. . While vaccine side effects are rarely serious, Moffitt says waiting to get your child vaccinated with a larger dose can increase the odds of a child experiencing mild vaccine-related side effects. — from arm pain to fever — without providing significantly more protection.