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COVID Vaccine Now Available for Younger Children; Why Parents Should Consider Them for Back-to-School Preparation


August 09, 2022 Posted in: Primary Care , Health & Wellness  3 minute read time

 

Students will soon be heading back to class, and we encourage ensuring that they are protected from COVID-19 as they are from other diseases. That means adding the COVID vaccine to the list of protections before they enter the classroom.

Over the summer, Kentucky has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, and as children gather in classrooms again and in large groups, it’s crucial we continue to take steps to keep them safe from this virus, which has affected children of all ages.

The good news is that the vaccine is available to almost everyone now, as the FDA recently approved the vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years. This is another step in our fight against COVID.

The bad news is Kentucky has a low rate of vaccination for school-age children. Only a quarter of kids ages 5-11 have received one dose of the vaccine. The numbers are better for older students, but still, only about half of the students ages 12-17 have received their first dose. Many of the vaccinated school-age children are also eligible for a COVID booster that will provide further protection as they prepare to return to school in August.

While the COVID vaccine has been available for younger children for a few weeks now, only about 1 percent of children under age 5 have been vaccinated. We all want to get back to the pre-pandemic days, but the continued presence of the virus means there will continue to be disruptions in our lives, including isolation for children when they test positive. That’s why vaccination for the entire family is important.

While studies show young children are less likely to become severely ill from COVID infection, they can still experience adverse effects. Many may experience mild illness, but others may become severely ill and require hospitalization or develop the rare MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children). Babies under age 1 may be at a higher risk for severe illness. That’s why we recommend getting the vaccine to protect young children, just as we recommend for other diseases like chicken pox, measles, mumps, and rubella.

We know some parents may be hesitant to consider the shots, especially following the delays in approval for very young children. But those delays should make parents more comfortable that the science has been followed, and the vaccines are safe and efficacious – they work and have minimal side effects.

As with the development and approval of the first adult COVID-19 vaccines, all precautions were taken before the series was approved for this age group. Teams of doctors, scientists, statisticians and other experts were involved in the process and thoroughly evaluated all data to help determine that the vaccine was safe and effective.

As much as we wish the pandemic were over, it is not. We encourage parents to talk to their child’s pediatrician about this important decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine and consider all the research and facts about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Higher vaccination rates for everyone will help us contain the risks of severe disease. If you haven’t received the COVID vaccine or booster, if eligible, we encourage you to do so to protect yourself, your family and your community. The sooner your children have the first dose, the sooner they will have the most protection heading into the new school year.

Madeline Fisher, MD, is an internal medicine/pediatric physician at CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care in Lexington.


Dr. Madeline Fisher

CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care

Dr. Madeline Fisher

CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care

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