Parents with children under the age of 5, rejoice! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech for children 6 months through 5 years old for emergency use, and on Saturday, June 18, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the vaccines for infants and younger kids.
While adding more shots to your little one’s routine vaccinations isn’t something any parent is dying to do, the peace of mind you get from knowing your child is protected is priceless. It’s also totally normal to have questions or concerns when it comes to your babies.
Mobeen Rathore, MD, chief of pediatric infectious disease and immunology at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, answered parents’ most frequently asked questions about shots for this age group, and addressed some hesitations.
Are you sure the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for babies and young children?
“It’s the same vaccine that’s been given to older children and adults, but younger children will receive a smaller dose. Millions of people have received the vaccine, which has shown to be safe and effective. I personally was involved in the trial for this age group, and we have not had any issues, so I feel parents should be very confident in getting this for their children.”
For this age group, will the vaccine still require more than one shot?
“The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given in three doses, each one being 3 micrograms, approximately one-tenth of an adult dose. Moderna’s vaccine is a series of two shots of 25 micrograms each, one-fourth an adult dose. There may be a booster down the road, as this is being studied currently.”
If babies and young children are less likely to have severe COVID-19, why should they get vaccinated?
“I disagree with the rationale that because the illness is mild, it’s OK for children to get infected. It’s true that most children don’t have serious disease with COVID-19 infection, but some kids do and can even die from it. First, we don’t know who will get seriously ill and who will not, and second, you can still develop MIS-C with a mild infection, and that can be very serious and even deadly. Children can also develop long COVID-19, which we’re still learning about. If a 50-year-old gets the virus, he or she may have to live with lingering effects for 30 years, but if a 5-year-old gets it, he or she may have to live with it for 75 years.”
Is it better for parents to choose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for children this age?
“Both mRNA vaccines are proven to be safe and effective. I think it’s important that we get our children vaccinated with whichever type is available so we can get back to normal life. If everyone else in the family is vaccinated and that child is not, please consider it so your littlest one can do all the same activities safely.”
We know you have questions. For up-to-date, accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines for children, including vaccination locations, visit wolfsonchildrens.com/covid19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines for adults and children, visit baptistjax.com/covid19vaccine.