The Food and Drug Administration lowered the age for Americans eligible to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children between 12-15 years of age. Here is what parents need to know, according to a top pediatrician.
Dr. Jody Terranova, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, told an NBC affiliate in Connecticut, the Pfizer shot has been extensively reviewed by the FDA. She said the FDA data "shows it is extremely effective and well tolerated with similar side effects as adults."
The vaccine could cause pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, or body aches that usually resolve in a day or so, Terranova said. She said, although children do not generally suffer severe disease from COVID-19, they can become sick and suffer from extended complications.
According to Kaiser Health News, kids can become "long haulers," just like adults, and suffer long-term, debilitating effects from the disease. Pediatric hospitals are setting up clinics to help detect and treat these anomalies and offer a structured follow-up program for the affected children.
Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, set up a special clinic to help children manage long-term symptoms after COVID-19. The clinic is designed for children and teens experiencing persistent side effects after a confirmed diagnosis.
Terranova added, since children make up approximately 25% of our population, the U.S. will never achieve herd immunity to stop the spread of the disease until a large portion of kids are inoculated.
According to a Kaiser Poll, less than a third of parents said they would get their child vaccinated as soon as the shots are approved. Only 29% of parents of children under age 18 said they would get their child vaccinated "right away," according to data published last Thursday by Kaiser Family Foundation.
Another 32% said they would wait to see how the vaccine is working before getting their child a shot, while the remaining parents said their child would be vaccinated only if their school requires it (15%), or they definitely would not be vaccinated (19%).
Terranova told the NBC affiliate in Connecticut, millions of people around the world have received the vaccine without incidence and they have been shown to be very safe.
"Our fastest path back to normalcy and reducing the spread and the rise of new variants of COVID-19 is by vaccinating all of us," she said.
The pediatrician noted, once the vaccines receive full approval instead of emergency use authorization by the FDA, the U.S. might see some schools mandating vaccines.
She suggested parents encourage their children who might be nervous about getting vaccinated to get the shot, not only to protect themselves but also to protect others.
"Making it a family event to go get your vaccines together or bringing younger children to see parents and older siblings get vaccinated may work in some situations," Terranova advised. "And ask your pediatrician for advice when you need it. We are always happy to talk to parents and children and answer any questions."
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