By Elisabeth Buchwald
Some 28 million U.S. children are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s final approval of the Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +2.32% /BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +3.17% COVID-19 shots.
Just over a quarter of parents (27%) with kids ages 5 to 11 say they’ll get their child vaccinated as soon as possible, according to survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health care think-tank.
“This is one of the best ways to protect your child and family from COVID-19,” said Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center.
Yet a third of parents are taking the “wait and see” approach and three-in-10 said they definitely would not get their child vaccinated.
Here are some key questions that parents may have about vaccinations for their younger kids.
1. Where will vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 be administered?
For the most part, your child should be able to get vaccinated at the same places people 12 and over have been getting vaccinated. But unlike the initial vaccine rollouts, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting an appointment, the White House said ahead of the FDA advisory panel’s meetings.
The national pharmacy chain Walgreens WBA will start administering the shots on Nov. 6, it said on its website . CVS /zigman2/quotes/209664499/composite CVS +0.98% will start giving the shots Nov. 7 and parents can schedule the shots as of now, according to the CVS website.
More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary-care providers have signed on to administer COVID-19 vaccine shots to kids, according to a White House brief.
On top of that, there will also be hundreds of school- and community-based clinics as well as children’s hospitals that will be administering vaccines.
2. How do COVID-19 vaccines for younger children differ from those being given to people 12 and up?
Children will be receiving Pfizer doses that are one-third the dose used for teens and adults.
But just as with teens and adults, they’ll have to wait three weeks to receive their second doses and an additional two weeks to be considered fully-vaccinated, with nearly 91% protection against symptomatic infection, according to a Pfizer study of more than 2,000 elementary-school-age children.
3. What are common side effects when younger kids get COVID-19 vaccines?
The side effects your child could experience after their first dose could include: arm pain/soreness, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and fever, according to Pfizer’s study.
“These symptoms are generally short-lived (last 1 to 3 days) and resolve on their own without any long-term impacts,” Rajapakse told MarketWatch.
“Side effects can occur more commonly after the second dose of the vaccine due to a stronger immune-system response,” she added. “If parents have concerns about a symptom their child is experiencing after vaccination they should seek the advice of their primary care provider to find out if it is an expected side effect or not.”
Importantly, “most children will not have symptoms severe enough that they need to miss school,” she said. Kids can take over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen to treat “bothersome” symptoms, Rajapakse added.
Some two-thirds of parents are concerned “the vaccine may negatively impact their child’s fertility in the future, despite the CDC stating there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems,” according to the KFF report.
4. Can kids get a flu shot at or around the same time as their COVID-19 vaccine shot?
Based on “the best available data right now,” there’s no problem with a child receiving a flu shot and a COVID-19 shot during the same trip to the doctor’s office, Dr. Adam Ratner, chief of the pediatric infectious diseases division at New York University Grossman School of Medicine’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, told MarketWatch.
In fact, “you can get them at the same time,” Ratner said. “There’s no reason to think there would be interference between the two of them,” he added.
5. Will kids still need to wear masks at school once they’re fully vaccinated?
“Children should continue to wear masks after they are fully vaccinated until we see the levels of virus circulation in the community decrease substantially,” Rajapakse told MarketWatch.
“Parents should continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and their local public health units as recommendations regarding masking for vaccinated individuals may change if levels of virus circulation decrease significantly.”