Central District Health answers questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children

The discussion comes after FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine was extended to children aged 5 to 11.

BOISE, Idaho – Editor’s Note: A video of the full briefing is posted at the end of this article. The video above is a shorter report that aired on News at Four on November 9.

Health officials from Central District Health addressed myths and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine during a briefing Tuesday on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for children.

The question-and-answer session comes after the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine was extended to children aged 5 to 11. Appointments for children to receive their first dose of the vaccine are now available statewide.

According to CDH medical director Dr. Sandy Mudge, COVID-19 infections and severe outcomes are rarer in children than in adults, accounting for just 2% of hospitalizations for coronavirus. However, she said, having children vaccinated against the disease protects them not only from COVID-19, but also from the life-threatening complication MIS-C and potential long-term or downstream effects of the disease, as well. than to protect other members of the community from infection. .

“We are very fortunate that this disease has been mild so far in children, but we don’t know if it will remain so, as the virus has already mutated several times,” Mudge said.

Children who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions – such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma, or congenital heart problems – are at higher risk for COVID-19. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced Tuesday afternoon that the state had recorded its first child death from COVID-19: an infant in southwestern Idaho.

The vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 is one third of the dose given to adults and older children. Vaccination requires two doses three weeks apart, plus an additional two weeks to achieve full protection, meaning children vaccinated before Thanksgiving will be fully protected by Christmas.

Children who have already contracted COVID-19 should still receive the vaccine, as long as they are no longer actively showing signs of infection, Mudge said.

“We know that with a natural infection you probably have some immunity for at least three months, but after that it seems to depend on the severity of the infection and the characteristics of the person themselves, so we can’t just not predict who is going to have continued natural immunity, ”she said.

In clinical trials of vaccines for the 5-11 age group, Mudge said, there were no serious cases of illness or death. Adverse effects included redness or soreness at the injection site, as well as a feeling of pain, tiredness or fever after receiving the injection – short-term side effects also experienced by vaccinated adults, a- she declared.

Mudge said the reactions are caused by participants’ immune systems “speeding up” as they learn to recognize and fight off advanced proteins that would be present with a COVID-19 infection.

She encouraged anyone with questions or concerns to speak to their child’s health care provider, but stressed that the vaccination is safe and will help Idaho achieve herd immunity.

“We have hundreds of millions of people who have received these vaccines. We have seen that overall, these vaccines have been quite safe and have helped reduce hospitalizations and deaths among those who are vaccinated, compared to those who are vaccinated. who are not vaccinated, which is the point, ”she said. “It can’t change your DNA because it doesn’t go to the nucleus of the cell. He cannot give you COVID-19; it does not contain a live viral strain. concerns that people usually have – like I said, these are pretty straightforward basic vaccines. “

You can watch the full briefing below.

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