“I feel confident enough in it that my own kids have gotten the vaccine.”
On Wednesday I talked to Dr. Lee Savio Beers, the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, about children and the Covid vaccines. Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for use in children 12 years of age and older. However, Moderna recently reported that its vaccine is safe and highly effective in children between the ages of 12 and 17 years, and the company plans to submit clinical trial data to the FDA in early June.
In order to clear up some of the uncertainties around the Covid vaccines for children and debunk some of the myths calling the safety and efficacy of the vaccines into question, Dr. Beers and I addressed some of the common questions around getting your children vaccinated. Read on for some takeaways or watch the whole interview on my Instagram.
1. Side effects of the Covid vaccines in children have been similar to those in adults. Just as some adults report feeling tired and achy after receiving the vaccine while others are unaffected, the occurrence of side effects in children varies.
2. Covid vaccines are highly effective in children, just as they are in adults. Dr. Beers recalled that doctors initially hoped for efficacy levels of 50% to 60%, while some of the vaccines are showing 95% efficacy.
3. For virtually every vaccine, any side effects appear within the first six to eight weeks. Dr. Beers said there has not been a vaccine studied that resulted in side effects years after administration. That gives us a lot of confidence that being able to monitor kids and monitor adults and see what’s happened after six to eight weeks gives us a really good picture”
4. Part of the reason Covid vaccines aren’t available to children under 12 years of age is that scientists are still studying the clinical trial results. “It just highlights how careful and cautious the FDA and the CDC are being about the data,” Dr. Beers said. While the timing is still uncertain, she said younger children will likely
5. The clinical trials include subsections of children with asthma, allergies, and other conditions, as well as kids from different areas of the country, different races and different backgrounds. “The trials were really attentive to that so we could feel confident that the vaccine is safe and effective in a wide group of kids.”
6. The clinical trials have followed the same protocols that clinical trials typically do. Pfizer’s trial for kids 12 and up included 2,260 participants, while Moderna’s included 3,732 participants. In both trials, half of the participants received the vaccines and the other half received a placebo.
7. “You can create a little cocoon around your little ones by making sure everyone else around them is vaccinated.” Dr. Beers said that having vaccinated adults and teenagers in the household offers young, unvaccinated children a degree of security, and that this is a common practice called “cocooning.”
8. “We’re not seeing any more cases of myocarditis in vaccinated kids than we would in the general population.” Dr. Beers said that while there isn’t any evidence that the vaccines are causing myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, doctors and researchers are continuing to monitor vaccinated children so they can react quickly if a connection appears
9. Unvaccinated children should continue to wear masks. Though it’s frustrating, Dr. Beers emphasized that it’s important for young, unvaccinated children to continue taking the precautions we’ve had over the last year, particularly around other unvaccinated children.
10. If you have any specific questions, particularly about your child’s allergies or pre-existing conditions, you should ask your pediatrician. While allergic reactions to the vaccines are very rare, your pediatrician will know your child’s health history and will be able to advise you on potential side effects.