Pfizer and BioNTech have announced that they are asking the US Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged from 5 to 11 bringing cheer to anticipating parents.
For the project to be green-lit, it may take a few weeks as the data needs to make its way through the FDA’s protocols and then the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How To Talk To Your Children Aged 5-11 On Getting The Covid Vaccination
Parents’ minds are already buzzing with concern as to how to prepare their children to get the shot and what to tell them about the experience in the meantime.
Pediatrician and child expert Dr. David Hill who is also the former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media has a few suggestions to offer in this regard.
According to him the adults in the children’s lives will play an important role in framing the experience of getting vaccinated. As kids, they pick up on the signals and cues of the adults around them even when they think they aren’t. If we express skepticism, worry, or apprehension they will pick that up. On the other hand, if we express confidence and relief they will pick that up too. So, answering their questions honestly with reassurance will go a long way.
A child’s biggest fear is if the vaccine is going to hurt. So, Dr. David Hill says he is completely honest with kids and has never lied to them by saying that it won’t hurt or they won’t feel it because that’s not true. Instead, he tells them that they are going to feel it a little but it won’t be as bad as falling when running or stubbing their toe. He suggests giving them a sense of control by asking them to select on which hand they would like to get vaccinated. Mentally prepare them in advance as to what they can do to distract themselves from the pain like singing or holding your hand during vaccination.
Dr. Hill also cautioned about forgoing masks until the virus is more tightly controlled. Even in COVID-19 vaccinated people there is transmissibility of the virus. The vaccine is very successful in keeping people who have the Delta variant away from hospitalization or dying from the disease. So, if you are outside of your family unit it is advisable to wear a mask. Wearing masks are still the rule and depend on the community rates of transmission. If community transmission rates get very low then the mask mandate might be lifted and we can go back to sitting close together in small spaces.
When community transmission rates are very low a lot of things become safe. It will also depend on how effective the vaccines are on children, but it will have more to do with how many people are getting vaccinated and how much importance is given to social distancing and wearing our masks.
Parents should consider vaccinating their children aged about 5-11 years because the COVID-19 infection has changed from 2020 and thus the beliefs we had regarding it 18 months ago don’t apply today. At the start of the pandemic, it seemed that children were less affected and death rates among them were very low compared to adults who got the disease. But now we know even children can get extremely sick from COVID-19, especially kids with underlying conditions like obesity, lung disease, asthma, heart disease, and immunodeficiency. Children are also a reservoir of the infection and the spread of the virus can happen very easily as opposed to previous beliefs. Currently, 27% of all cases in the US are children.
COVID-19 virus can inflame the heart muscle directly leading to myocarditis. There is a concern regarding one of the vaccines in young adults about vaccine-induced myocarditis but it is extremely rare and very less common than COVID-19 induced myocarditis. A syndrome specific to children called multisystem inflammatory syndrome behaves like the Kawasaki Disease which causes life-threatening heart disease and prolonged illness. But kids who have been affected by this condition ultimately do well though their recovery could be a long and difficult process. From the history of vaccines and the COVID-19 vaccine history in adults and children over the age of 12, it can be said that giving the vaccine to children is much safer than contracting COVID-19.
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