December 22, 2020
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Sejal Bhavsar, M.D. contributes to topics such as Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
With the new vaccines for COVID-19 beginning to roll out, many parents are starting to wonder if and when it is safe to vaccinate their child.
“In the first wave of COVID-19, we saw more adults being affected by the virus, but children are certainly not immune. The numbers of children with both acute COVID-19 respiratory infection as well as related Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) are increasing during this second wave,” says Sejal Bhavsar, M.D., pediatric infectious disease specialist at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Has the COVID-19 vaccine been studied in kids?
Clinical trials until now have largely focused on adult participants. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial included participants age 16 and older while the Moderna vaccine trial included participants age 18 and older. Over the past several weeks, clinical trials have begun in children and adolescents age 12 and older with the plan to conduct more pediatric trials in younger children in the future.
Who can get a vaccine now?
The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people age 16 and older and for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people age 18 and older. The CDC has recommended that the vaccine can be administered to people with underlying medical conditions, as long as there are no contraindications (medical reasons to withhold the drug). At this time, the CDC has advised not administering the vaccine to people with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine. Individuals who had prior COVID-19 infection should be offered the vaccine.
Health care workers are among the first group to be offered the vaccinations. It may be several months before the vaccinations are available to the general public.
“Vaccinating our health care teams will also help keep patients safe when they come for outpatient physician visits or require hospitalization until there is an approved vaccine for kids,” says Dr. Bhavsar.
When can my child get the vaccine?
An approved vaccine for kids will likely not be available for several months. “Vaccination trials for children are essential to best understand any potential unique immune responses and/or safety concerns in that population,” says Dr. Bhavsar. “We also need to ensure that the vaccine doses are safe, tolerable and effective in children.”
What should I do for my child while we wait for a vaccine?
Parents should consider receiving the COVID-19 vaccination if it becomes available to them. Everyone should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing and handwashing.
It is important not to delay medical care and continue with regular pediatrician and specialist appointments, including well-visits to keep on-track with routine vaccinations, including for serious viruses, such as the influenza virus. In case of emergency, be sure to visit a pediatric emergency room so that any medical concerns do not escalate and become dangerous.
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our clinical contributor: Sejal Bhavsar, M.D.
- To make an appointment with Dr. Bhavsar, or a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.