Why get your little one immunized against COVID-19
EFew people in the US 6 months or older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allow June shots for babies, from 6 months to 5 years old. They are the last age demographic in the United States eligible for vaccination during the pandemic.
Despite the regulatory green light, many parents with young children still wonder if it is necessary to get vaccinated children At this point in the pandemic, as infections have become so common, the virus in general causes relatively mild symptoms in most children.
But while long-term children’s follow-up studies are ongoing, current evidence points to more benefits than risks of vaccines for young children. Here are some common concerns among parents, along with the latest consensus from experts on what the science shows so far.
Hospitalize and the deaths of the youngest children are increasing
COVID-19 tends to cause milder illness in children than in adults. But Omicron has increased its stake in this population.
Data from CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker showed that during the peak of the initial Omicron wave, January through February 2022, the hospitalization rate of infants and toddlers under 4 years of age was more than four times higher than the rate of children from 5 to 17 years old. According to public health experts, part of the reason is that young children are not yet eligible for vaccinations, while older children. These rates suggest that children of all ages who are not immunized and vaccinated against COVID-19 can develop illness so severe that they need to be hospitalized.
Factual data shows that COVID-19 vaccinations are safe for children
Some parents are concerned that the mRNA vaccine hasn’t been tested long enough in children. But the research submitted to the FDA by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the two companies that have authorized children for the COVID-19 vaccine, to the FDA is quite thorough. Moderna’s research involving nearly 1,600 children aged 6 months to 5 years, while Pfizer-BioNTechincluding more than 4,500 children aged 6 months to 4 years; some of the children served as controls and received a placebo, while others received the actual dose of the vaccine.
In both cases, the companies followed the children in the studies for about two months after they received the second dose of the main two-dose vaccine series. And in both cases, adverse reaction rates are similar to those observed for older children and adults, including from real data collected from hundreds of millions of adolescents and adults. adults have been vaccinated.
None of the young children vaccinated in either company’s studies developed serious adverse reactions. The most concerning side effect that has been reported in older children, mainly adolescents, involves inflammation of the heart tissue; it is extremely rare even in that age group, and has so far not been seen in vaccinated young children.
The CDC’s Vaccine Response and Adverse Reactions Monitoring System will continue to review the data for any signs of an increase in known adverse events or reports of new side effects. And vaccine manufacturers will also continue to study the safety and effectiveness of the shots in young children.
Childhood vaccines may be as effective against Omicron as adult vaccines
Back in 2020, the mRNA vaccine produced a staggering 90% effectiveness. But effectiveness rate when injected for the youngest child not impressed. Why not? Another version of SARS-CoV-2 was circulating when these injections were first developed. Both vaccines were developed to target the original strain of the virus, which is no longer the cause of the majority of COVID-19 cases. That strain has been replaced by a series of variants, the latest of which are the subvariants of Omicron and Omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, which now make up half of infections in the US
In the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech studies of younger children, participants were given the same version of the vaccine — which targeted the original virus — in smaller doses. But because these studies occurred more recently, during the first wave of Omicrons this past winter, the vaccine’s effectiveness in this age group, as measured by antibodies that can neutralize the virus, reflects immunity against Omicron, not the original strain, a decrease. However, the antibodies tested continue to protect against severe COVID-19 disease and constitute only part of the immune response produced by the vaccine.
Although they cannot completely prevent infection, vaccines do reduce the risk of adverse outcomes for children.
People who have been vaccinated and boosted can (and do) still get COVID-19. But there’s no reason not to shoot. No vaccines, including those that target childhood diseases like measles, are 100% effective. Vaccines are primarily designed to protect people from getting very sick from a certain disease, not to make sure they don’t get infected in the first place.
Infections occurring in immunized adults are caused by the Omicron variant and its sub-variants. Adults are vaccinated with a vaccine that targets the original virus; the strength of that immunity dwindled as new variants emerged – especially against Omicron.
That said, the original vaccines are still effective in inducing a broad immune response against the worst effects of all variants of SARS-CoV-2, from Alpha to Omicron. In other words, even if vaccinated adults become infected, vaccination will largely protect them from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 and requiring hospitalization.
Vaccinated and booster adults have generally reported milder symptoms and milder illness than unvaccinated adults. The same holds true for children, experts say.
It is safer to receive Omicron if young children are vaccinated
Studies have documented persistent COVID, a group of lingering symptoms involving the brain, heart, and other body systems that may represent the long-term health effects of the infection — but The true extent of long COVID is still unknown. Data on Long COVID are even less complete for children, so most public health experts believe the preventive benefits of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine outweigh any risks. any potential. In adults, data show that Immunization reduces the risk of long-term COVID. Studies are beginning to show that people who become infected after being vaccinated also tend to experience milder symptoms and less severe illness than infected people who are not vaccinated.
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