Kids COVID-19 vaccine: Answers to 5 key questions about the shot

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado kids are rolling up their sleeves after federal health officials issued final emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.

Appointments for the kid-size dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are filling up fast, but health experts are still hearing some questions about the shot.

Dr. Anuj Mehta, assistant professor of medicine and pulmonologist at Denver Health, addressed some of the most common concerns.

Is the COVID vaccine safe for kids?

“Based on the data we have from the clinical trial that Pfizer presented to both the FDA and the CDC, it looks like this is a very safe and very effective vaccine. The pediatric vaccine is a third of the dose of the adult vaccine — it’s 10 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms,” Mehta said.

How effective is the vaccine?

“We measure efficacy in two ways. We measure antibody levels, and then we actually look at who gets sick. Based on the studies, it shows antibody levels really jump really high, just like younger adults, and that the vaccine is also highly effective — about 91% based on the trial,” Mehta said.

What are the side effects?

“The most common one is a sore arm. They may get a little bit of a low-grade fever, but it’s not happening as frequently as we see it in our younger adults who are getting the full dose,” Mehta said.

If kids have a lower risk of serious illness or death from COVID, why should they get the shot?

“(COVID) is not as dangerous for kids as it is adults, but we have seen increases in hospitalizations lately. The other thing to remember about kids is they are still at risk for long-haul COVID. We don’t have great numbers, but we do think that some percentage of kids, even if they have mild illness and recover, will be left with some long-lasting symptoms like chronic fatigue and brain fog,” Mehta said.

Are there any kids who might not benefit from the COVID vaccine?

“The trial did not include kids who may be getting hefty doses of chemotherapy, so maybe a kid with cancer that’s being actively treated. There are probably some type of rare immune deficiencies that kids may be born with, so there are extreme situations where they may not have been included in the clinical trial. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the vaccine — it just means people should have an educated discussion with their pediatrician and medical team,” Mehta said.

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