Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

The CDC has giv­en final approval of the Pfiz­er COVID-19 vac­cine for chil­dren ages 5 – 11. We now have pedi­atric COVID-19 vac­cines avail­able and inter­est­ed fam­i­lies can sched­ule appoint­ments through MyDMGHealth/​MyChart as sup­ply allows.

We are vac­ci­nat­ing chil­dren by appoint­ment at our large vac­cine site in Lisle, at 801 Ogden Avenue, which will allow for safe dis­tanc­ing and impor­tant­ly, close obser­va­tion of chil­dren fol­low­ing vac­ci­na­tion by our skilled care team mem­bers. We will expand loca­tions over time and add walk-in ser­vice as sup­ply permits.

So long as vac­cine sup­ply is ample, we look for­ward to pro­tect­ing our young patients and expect an effi­cient and con­ve­nient process for their parents.

Will the dos­ing be the same?

The cur­rent Pfiz­er vac­cine that has received Emer­gency Use Autho­riza­tion will be 10mcg or 13rd of the dose giv­en to indi­vid­u­als aged 12yo and up. There will be 2 dos­es, 21 days apart. This vac­cine is NOT weight-based but rather based on immune sys­tem age/​maturity so the 10mcg dose will be appro­pri­ate for your child regard­less of their weight.

Why should my child get this vac­cine? I thought chil­dren were low risk.

There have been over 6 mil­lion COVID ill­ness­es in chil­dren in the Unit­ed States. Up to 30% of chil­dren sick enough to be hos­pi­tal­ized had NO under­ly­ing health issues or risk fac­tors. There have been over 600 pedi­atric deaths due to COVID with over 100 pedi­atric deaths in this age group alone. Although chil­dren are at low risk for severe COVID ill­ness, hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, and death, they remain at risk for post-COVID or COVID long-haul syn­dromes with symp­toms of fatigue, brain fog, poor appetite, etc., last­ing for weeks to months after even mild cas­es of COVID.

How effec­tive is this vaccine?

Stud­ies show this vac­cine is >90% effec­tive at pre­vent­ing all symp­to­matic COVID ill­ness in clin­i­cal tri­als. These vac­cines work well against cir­cu­lat­ing Delta vari­ant as well as pre­vi­ous vari­ants of concern.

Can this vac­cine be giv­en at the same time as my child’s influen­za vac­cine or oth­er sched­uled vaccines?

Yes. COVID vac­cines can be giv­en at the same time as the influen­za vac­cine or any oth­er sched­uled child­hood immunization.

What are the expect­ed side effects?

Vac­cine side effects are com­mon but gen­er­al­ly mild. Chil­dren in these tri­als expe­ri­enced fevers, headaches, fatigue, chills, and gen­er­al­ized body aches. Some chil­dren expe­ri­enced swollen lymph nodes and GI upset/​diarrhea. There were no severe side effects report­ed in these clin­i­cal tri­als. Sim­i­lar to old­er kids and adults, chil­dren will be asked to wait for 15 min­utes after receipt of their vac­cines, 30 min­utes if there is a his­to­ry of anaphylaxis.

What about myocardi­tis (inflam­ma­tion of the heart)?

Myocardi­tis is a very rare side effect that appears to be more com­mon in young male patients and more com­mon after the 2nd dose of vac­cine. In the Pfiz­er study that led to Emer­gency Use Autho­riza­tion for this vac­cine, there were NO cas­es of myocardi­tis among the ~1500 study par­tic­i­pants who received active vac­cine prod­uct. It is expect­ed, based on data for ado­les­cents and young adults, that there will be ~1 case of myocardi­tis per 38,000 dos­es of vac­cine giv­en. When this rare side effect occurs, it is gen­er­al­ly with­in 7 days of vac­cine and presents with chest dis­com­fort and fevers. No chil­dren have died of COVID vac­cine-induced myocardi­tis and, in gen­er­al, myocardi­tis due to vac­cine is milder than myocardi­tis due to COVID infection.

What about long-term side effects of mRNA vaccines?

Long-term side effects are very unlike­ly based on how mRNA vac­cines work and the evi­dence we have gath­ered from mil­lions of dos­es of the vac­cine already admin­is­tered world­wide. Tiny frag­ments of mRNA are con­tained in a lipid (fat) par­ti­cle and deliv­ered into the mus­cle. The lipid par­ti­cle helps pre­vent the mRNA from break­ing down dur­ing deliv­ery. With­in a few hours, the lipid dis­solves and releas­es the mRNA to deliv­er the mes­sage for cells to start mak­ing spike pro­teins. mRNA does not enter the nucle­us of the cell where DNA is stored, and it can­not change a person’s DNA. mRNA itself also can­not be con­vert­ed to DNA. After this mes­sage is deliv­ered to the cells, mRNA com­plete­ly dis­in­te­grates and is cleared from the body with­in 72 hours. For as long as we have had vac­cines in his­to­ry, all seri­ous vac­cine events occur with­in 6 – 8 weeks of a vac­cine’s admin­is­tra­tion. We now have more than 1 year of vac­cine data show­ing these vac­cines are safe and effective.

Are there any risks to future fertility?

Stud­ies in indi­vid­u­als of repro­duc­tive age show no decreas­es in sperm counts and no increased risk of mis­car­riage. To date, there have been thou­sands of suc­cess­ful preg­nan­cies after vac­ci­na­tion. For young peo­ple who have begun men­stru­at­ing there could be a tem­po­rary change in men­stru­al cycles due to the mount­ing of an immune response to the vac­cine. At present, experts in obstet­rics, gyne­col­o­gy, and mater­nal-fetal med­i­cine all endorse receipt of the COVID vaccine.

What if my child has already had COVID? Don’t they already have antibodies?

Stud­ies show that nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty is both quite high and fair­ly com­mon in chil­dren. Sim­i­lar to vac­cine pro­tec­tion over time, how­ev­er, nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty wanes. Nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty also makes anti­bod­ies less pre­dictably, and it cur­rent­ly appears the vac­cine is more pro­tec­tive against cur­rent COVID vari­ants. Receiv­ing the COVID vac­cine after COVID ill­ness also strength­ens the immune sys­tem response. There is no need to wait” to receive the vac­cine after COVID ill­ness, as soon as your child has recov­ered symp­to­mati­cal­ly and has com­plet­ed quar­an­tine, it is OK to receive the COVID vaccine.