Yesterday the FDA approved the Pfizer mRNA vaccine for use in children 12 to 15 years old. The following serves as a brief response to the FDA’s approval and an update to our April 23 newsletter in which I answered questions submitted by parents: The Latest on Children, Teens, and COVID-19 Vaccines.
Should my 12/13/14/15 year-old be vaccinated now that the FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for that age group? The CDC has yet to approve the vaccine for this age group so vaccines are not yet available – the CDC’s approval is expected in follow up to their meeting tomorrow. Assuming the CDC gives a thumbs up, with few exceptions*, my answer is YES.
(*This is a more nuanced conversation than I can go into here. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact the office to schedule a time to delve into this with us.)
How do we know these vaccines are safe? Per Megan Ranney, MD MPH, “Study after study shows that the safety for these mRNA vaccines is tremendously good. And allergy rates are tremendously low.” All of the experts I follow and trust have echoed her statements.
What are the benefits of my child being vaccinated since kids don’t get sick from COVID? While most children don’t become seriously ill or need hospitalization when infected with COVID-19, a small percentage does. And, there have been deaths in children due to complications from COVID-19. We still don’t know what the long-term health implications may be from COVID-19 infection in kids. Further, being immunized will mean protection from:
- long haul covid
- having to wear masks (subject to local rules and conditions)
- infecting others – these vaccines work to protect the immunized from becoming infected and spreading the virus which will help achieve herd immunity
- preventing infection with the B117 and the development of new variants
Pfizer reports that the vaccine is 100% effective against COVID-19 one month after the second dose.
Can we bring our kids to GetzWell for the vaccine? Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to procure the mRNA vaccines for administration at our offices. You will need to go to other approved sites set up around the City or your community. This is one site that may be used to find appointments: https://myturn.ca.gov/
Are vaccine side effects likely to be as strong for kids? Not all adults experience systemic side effects (e.g. fever, muscle aches, fatigue) or local reactions (e.g. soreness and swelling at the injection site) and not all children will, either. Per the study group of children vaccinated with the Pfizer mRNA immunization, their side effects were very similar to what has been seen in adults: arm soreness after the first dose and more systemic effects after the second dose including headache, fatigue (most common) and fever.
Keep in mind, as with any immunization, these post-vaccine symptoms are time-limited and if a child is miserable, a half dose of ibuprofen or Tylenol may be used. I don’t recommend pre-treating with either, however. Wait and see how your child does with vaccination because more often than not they won’t need fever/pain medicine.
Is there anything I can give my son/daughter to help with the vaccine response and mitigate side effects? Adequate sleep, plenty of vegetables and a whole foods diet, and lots of love go a long way toward supporting the immune system around any provocative event, including immunization. Supplements like vitamins C and D3, probiotics and glutathione are additional ways of providing immune support. As always, we would be happy to provide customized guidance on the use of these and other supplements for those who are interested. Just reach out and we’ll set up a brief appointment.
Any other advice to parents?
Remember, you don’t have to be a perfect parent, just a good enough one!
At GetzWell, we love guiding parents on all matters of health including parenting, sleep, nutrition, emotional intelligence and more. Call us to learn more!