(StatePoint) COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children under 5 years old, and the American Medical Association (AMA) is urging parents to get their children vaccinated.
“The wait for this moment has been excruciating for parents who were ready on day one for their children to receive a vaccination to prevent severe COVID,” says Jack Resneck, Jr., M.D., president of the AMA. “While there is overwhelming scientific evidence showing the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, we know many parents and families still have questions.”
Here are six things to know about pediatric COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5:
1. The vaccines are safe: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed all trial safety data before authorizing and recommending vaccines for children under 5. The vast majority of side effects were mild, including irritability and crying, sleepiness, fatigue and loss of appetite.
2. The vaccines are effective: Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease. Based on 230 pages of data, regulators said the vaccines show a strong immune response in children, and are somewhat effective at preventing symptomatic disease.
3. They’re widely available: Vaccines will be available at pediatricians’ offices, as well as from primary care physicians. Information on locations near you is available at vaccines.gov.
4. COVID-19 poses a danger to children: According to the CDC, COVID-19 is a leading cause of death among children ages 0-19 years. Among children in the United States aged 6 months to 4 years, there have been more than 2 million cases of COVID-19, more than 20,000 hospitalizations, and more than 200 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
5. There is more than one dose: Like most vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines involve more than one dose. Pfizer’s vaccine is a three-dose primary series at one-tenth the dosage of the adult formulation. The Moderna vaccine primary series is a two-dose regimen, spaced four to eight weeks apart, at one-fourth the dosage of the adult formulation. Booster shots will likely be part of the regimen, too, just as they are for other age groups.
6. Getting up to date is important: Make sure your child is up to date on all vaccines when they get the COVID-19 vaccine. Adolescents and adult immunizations declined during the pandemic and an estimated 26 million recommended vaccinations were missed in 2020 as compared to 2019.
If you have additional questions, speak with your physician and review trusted resources, including getvaccineanswers.org.
“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, they’re backed by science and data; they work. More than 1 million people in the United States have died from COVID, and I urge you to keep yourself and your loved ones safe by getting vaccinated,” says Dr. Resneck.
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