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COVID vaccines for small children: Do kids under 5 need them? All you need to know

For parents of babies, toddlers, and young kids, the long wait for COVID vaccines is over. On June 17th, 2022, the FDA authorized the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for all children aged 6 months or older under an emergency use authorization (EUA).

Regarding the vaccine approval, the FDA Commissioner stated, “...As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death.” Right after the FDA’s announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also endorsed these vaccines for children under 5.

The news of the vaccine approval brings some relief to concerned parents. After all, adults could get vaccinated against COVID as of August 2021, and children aged 5 - 11 could receive their vaccines as of October 2021 (and a booster dose as of May 2022). However, children under 5 have remained completely vulnerable until now.

Here’s more on the vaccines for children under 5 to help you make an informed decision.

COVID vaccines for small children: Do kids under 5 need them? All you need to know

For parents of babies, toddlers, and young kids, the long wait for COVID vaccines is over. On June 17th, 2022, the FDA authorized the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for all children aged 6 months or older under an emergency use authorization (EUA).

Regarding the vaccine approval, the FDA Commissioner stated, “...As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death.” Right after the FDA’s announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also endorsed these vaccines for children under 5.

The news of the vaccine approval brings some relief to concerned parents. After all, adults could get vaccinated against COVID as of August 2021, and children aged 5 - 11 could receive their vaccines as of October 2021 (and a booster dose as of May 2022). However, children under 5 have remained completely vulnerable until now.

Here’s more on the vaccines for children under 5 to help you make an informed decision.

Fast facts: Vaccines for children under 5

According to the FDA and the CDC:

  1. The Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines protect kids against severe disease, hospitalizations, and death
  2. In trials, both vaccines were effective in preventing COVID symptoms, to varying degrees:
    -- The Moderna vaccine was 51% effective in kids 6 months - 2 years, and 37% for ages 2-5
    -- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed an 80.3% efficacy in preventing symptomatic infection in kids under 5. However, these results are based on only ten cases, so more data is needed
  3. The Moderna vaccine has 2 doses, administered a month apart. Each dose is about a quarter of the adult dose at 25 micrograms..
  4. The Pfizer vaccine has 3 doses, with the first two shots provided within 3 weeks and the third shot eight weeks later. Each dose is about one-tenth the adult dose at 3 micrograms.
  5. The vaccines are already being rolled out across the country. Talk to a medical professional near you to learn more about availability.

If you would like to visit a local provider, Solv can help you get a same-day appointment.

Which vaccine is better for your children: Moderna or Pfizer? How do you decide?

As parents, all you want to do is make the best decision for your kids. But navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic has made this extremely difficult. And now, with the approval of two vaccines for small kids, how do you know which one is better?

Dr. Rob Rohatsch, MD breaks it down for us. “Deciding which vaccine to choose mostly boils down to a trade-off between the number of shots vs. the vaccine dose. With Moderna, your kids can be fully vaccinated in two doses, but Pfizer requires three doses stretched over a longer period. Many parents may prefer Moderna for this reason.”

Dr. Rohatsch adds, “If you select the Pfizer vaccine, your baby or child can receive smaller doses in each shot, which might buy you time to monitor any reactions to the vaccine.”

What’s the bottom line? Both vaccines effectively prevent severe disease, hospitalizations, and death from COVID. If you need more information, consider discussing your concerns with a medical professional. With Solv, you can video chat with an amazing US-based provider in less than 15 minutes.

What are the side effects of the vaccines? Are the vaccines safe?

According to Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator (as stated on CBS), “...after giving these vaccines to millions of children, it's really reassuring to know that for young kids, these vaccines are exceedingly safe.”

The FDA states that both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been rigorously tested for safety. Side effects of the vaccine for the age group of 6 months to 4-5 years of age were found to be mild and brief.

These include pain and swelling at the injection site and potentially some redness. Kids could also feel tired, sleepy, have a headache, or become irritable. Some families reported mild diarrhea, vomiting, and swollen lymph nodes, temporarily.

About myocarditis as a side effect, Dr. Rohatsch notes, “Naturally, parents are concerned about the myocarditis side effect previously reported in teens and young adults. Vaccine trial results did not find instances of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) in young children aged 6 months to 5 years of age.” He adds, “However, COVID-19 can also cause myocarditis. In fact, many viral infections have been associated with myocarditis, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and even the common cold. It’s important to get the full perspective.”

There’s a lot of information to sort through when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, and it can get overwhelming. To help you make sense of it all, consider talking to a healthcare provider. Solv can help you book same-day appointments with a physician near you.

Do vaccines for children under 5 work against Omicron?

As of now, it may be too soon to tell. Pfizer’s trial was conducted before the Omicron wave. While Moderna’s vaccine was tested when the Omicron variant was the dominant strain, the company announced that they developed a new Omicron-resistant vaccine that they plan to make available by Fall 2022.

What is the COVID risk for infants and children under 5?

Though the overall risk of COVID is low, CDC data shows that COVID-19 can cause serious illness in unvaccinated infants and children under 4 years of age. Thousands of children under 5 have been hospitalized due to COVID, and there have been hundreds of deaths. It can be very scary for parents to see their children sick; many may not want to take a chance.

Vaccines can offer an added layer of protection. If you would like to learn more, Solv can help you see a doctor near you in less than a day.

If COVID risk for young kids is low, why do they need vaccines?

Dr. Rohatsch notes, “The vaccines are effective at keeping severe disease at bay and minimizing hospitalizations from COVID. Babies and very young kids have not had the opportunity to build their natural immunity like adults. While the risk of severe illness and death is low for this age group, there is still a risk of developing multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) and other conditions that may need hospitalization. Vaccines can help minimize these risks. Additionally, a sick child with COVID is at risk to spread it to more vulnerable folks like the elderly and immunocompromised. Being vaccinated may help reduce this risk.”

To learn more about vaccines for your kids, consider speaking to a healthcare professional. With Solv, you can schedule a same-day appointment with a pediatrician near you. Solv can also get you a video visit with a US-based provider in as little as 15 minutes.

If your child already had COVID, should they get the vaccine?

The CDC clearly recommends that “children and teens who have already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated.” The vaccines can protect against severe illness and act as an added level of safety against COVID.

Solv can help you schedule a vaccine appointment or talk to a provider near you for more information. Or, talk to a healthcare professional through video chat in less than 15 minutes using Solv.

How soon can you get children (aged 6 months and over) vaccinated?

Vaccine rollout for children aged 6 months or over has already begun. Talk to your pediatrician or a local provider near you to learn about vaccine availability or find a vaccine on Solv.

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Solv Health and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Solv Health only to confirm educational value and reader interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with your healthcare provider.

Sources

Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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