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Should My Child Get The COVID 19 Vaccination?

Vaccinations for COVID 19 have definitely been the topic of many heated discussions this past year. I hope to provide professional information to help our patient family make the decision whether or not to vaccinate their child against COVID 19.

What vaccines are available?

At the time of writing, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was the only available vaccine with emergency authorization for use from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children ages 12-17 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was recently given emergency authorization for use in children ages 12-17 in the European Union (EU) by the European Medicines Agency and may soon be available in this country.  Full FDA approval for these vaccines are still pending.

What are the health risks of not vaccinating my child?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the percentage of new pediatric cases of COVID-19 has been increasing when compared to new adult cases. In the month of April 2021, approximately 70,000 new pediatric cases were reported weekly in the United States, accounting for 22.4% of all new cases. (1)  Since the onset of COVID-19 there have been nearly 4 million US cases of COVID-19 in children, with up to 2% of those resulting in hospitalization. Some conditions requiring hospitalization were acute respiratory failure, shock, cardiac dysfunction, and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). Although a rare condition, MIS-C has been linked to COVID Long hauler symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and muscle pain that can persist for many months after recovery from COVID-19. Pediatric Intensive Care Unit admissions were more likely with preexisting conditions such as asthma, prematurity, diabetes, and obesity. (2)   Death from COVID-19 has occurred in less than one percent of reported pediatric cases with the majority having preexisting conditions such as previously mentioned. (3)  Post COVID associated infection cases of myocarditis (inflammation of heart tissue) in adolescents are also on the rise. (4)  It is speculated that the overall rise in COVID cases can be attributed to the different variants that have arisen recently.

What are the risks if my child gets the vaccine?

Side effects have been similar in children 12 – 17 as they are for those 18 and over. Some of the more common side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are pain, redness, and swelling at the site of injection. Other side effects such as fevers, chills, muscle pain, headache, joint pain, and nausea can occur and typically last for one to three days. (5)  In certain instances, more serious complications can arise including myocarditis, which has been recognized as a rare complication of COVID-19 mRNA vaccinations, especially for young adult and adolescent males. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when monitoring the vaccinations in June of this year, myocarditis rates after the second dose of COVID vaccination were above what was expected. (6)  This prompted an emergency meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices later that month. During that meeting, the health risks from the vaccine and the health risks of COVID 19 infection were discussed and it was concluded that the benefits from vaccination outweigh its associated risks.

How do I report a reaction to the vaccine?

Vaccine adverse reactions are reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. To report vaccine side effects go to this website: https://vaers.hhs.gov/

Who should not get the vaccination?

Anyone who has an allergy to any of the components of the vaccination should not get it.

Here is the list of ingredients of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine:  https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/clinical-considerations/covid-19-vaccines-us.html#Appendix-C

Will they need a third shot?

The FDA recently made the recommendation for those who have compromised immune systems to have a third dose of the vaccination. This includes children.

What are the recommendations?

It is recommended by nearly every professional medical association in the United States (and worldwide) that all individuals, ages 12 and over, should receive the COVID 19 vaccine, as long as they do not have a specific contraindication. Some of the prominent organizations include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, and the American Diabetes Association.

Canyon View Medical Group recognizes that the decision to vaccinate your child against COVID 19 can be difficult with all of the different information available to you. If you have specific questions or concerns, we urge you to please have a discussion with your provider.

References:

(1)    https://downloads.aap.org/AAP/PDF/AAP%20and%20CHA%20-%20Children%20and%20COVID-19%20State%20Data%20Report%204.29.21%20FINAL.pdf

(2)   Kim L, Whitaker M, O’Halloran A, et al. Hospitalization Rates and Characteristics of Children Aged <18 Years Hospitalized with Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19: COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1–July 25, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020; 69:1081–1088.

(3)   Shekerdemian LS, Mahmood NR, Wolfe KK, et al. Characteristics and Outcomes of Children with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Infection Admitted to US and Canadian Pediatric Intensive Care Units. JAMA Pediatr 2020; 174:868–873.

(4)   Lara D, Young T, Del Toro K, Chan V, Ianiro C, Hunt K, Kleinmahon J. Acute Fulminant Myocarditis in a Pediatric Patient With COVID-19 Infection. Pediatrics. 2020 Aug;146(2):e20201509. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-1509.

(5)   https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html

(6)   Bozkurt B, Kamat I, Hotez PJ. Myocarditis With COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines.Circulation. 2021 Aug 10;144(6):471-484.

Truth vs Myth: The COVID-19 Vaccine

For those of you who are fans of the NBA and follow the Utah Jazz, you may realize that a watershed moment occurred on March 11, 2020. Rudy Gobert, All-Star Center for the Jazz, tested positive for COVID-19. He was the first athlete in a major professional sporting league to test positive. Leading to the cancelation of the game they were to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder that night. A cascade of cancelations followed. Games, schools, restaurants, and workplaces closed as the reality of the pandemic swept across the country. Gobert’s positive test marked the day that changed America. 

A year has passed. Some things in life have returned to a level of normalcy, but others are vastly different. We have all had limitations and restrictions on us that have affected work, school, family relationships, and other social interactions. There have been lives lost to COVID. Others changed forever. We are all asking; when will we get back to normal? I don’t have a firm answer for that one. As disappointing as that may sound, there is hope that we can eventually return to something that more closely resembles normal. 

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is likely the best chance we have to push back the tide of the current pandemic. The vaccine has already led to a dramatic decrease in severe illness from COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities and hospitalization rates, but we have a lot of work yet to do. Vaccines against COVID-19 are being distributed in communities across the globe. More and more people are becoming eligible, beginning with the most vulnerable. 

I have encountered many questions about those considering the vaccine for themselves or loved ones. Many have questions about safety and efficacy. The following are a few of the more common questions, answered with the most up-to-date information I could find available.

Question 1: Is the vaccine effective? 

  • The current data shows that the vaccines against COVID-19 are very effective. Most studies have shown rates of effectiveness to be 70-90+ percent. These rates are better than those of many other vaccines that we currently use against other infectious diseases. Overall effectiveness and duration of protection continue to be studied, but initial results are very encouraging. 

Question 2: Will the vaccine affect fertility or pregnancy?

  • There is no evidence or theory to suggest that the vaccine harms female or male fertility. Fertility experts have repeatedly recommended vaccination. 
  • The vaccines do not enter the nucleus of the cell. The cell is where genetic material is stored. So the vaccine cannot cause genetic changes. 
  • The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has recommended vaccination against COVID and states that the COVID vaccine not be withheld from pregnant patients. Indeed, studies in pregnancy have not been done. If you are currently pregnant or planning pregnancy, it is reasonable to discuss getting vaccinated with your provider. 
  • There is a growing body of evidence that there are significant risks of having infection with the COVID-19 virus during pregnancy. Vaccination can help prevent this. 

Question 3: Is the vaccine safe? Was the vaccine approved too quickly?

  • Vaccines against COVID-19 went through similar clinical trials as other vaccines to receive approval by the FDA and similar governing bodies in other nations. 
  • The FDA has approved COVID-19 vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The FDA only uses the EUA for COVID vaccines if there is substantial evidence of safety and effectiveness. These vaccines are still safe and effective even though they became available rather quickly. 

Question 4: Can I get COVID from the vaccine?

  • No. The vaccines do not contain the COVID virus. You cannot get infected with COVID-19 from the vaccination.

Question 5: Why is the reaction to the vaccine so significant for some people?

  • Vaccinations are intended to create an immune response. This response can include symptoms of fatigue, low-grade fever, muscle aches, etc. The most common reaction is local tissue reaction at the injection site. If you experience these symptoms following vaccination, Tylenol and/or ibuprofen can be used. Getting a skin infection at the injection site is rare. 
  • COVID-19 Vaccines are anticipated to cause these symptoms. The severity of the post immunizations symptoms is varied. These symptoms are evidence that the vaccine is doing what is intended. Once vaccinated, if the body encounters the COVID-19 virus, it will quickly respond to fight it off. 
  • Allergic reactions to vaccines can occur, including the COVID-19 vaccine, but severe reactions are infrequent. The latest data indicates that severe allergic reactions to the vaccine are about 10 cases per 1 million vaccines administered. You will be asked about previous reactions to vaccines that may indicate risk for an allergic response to COVID-19 vaccination. 

Question 6: When will we get to stop wearing masks and avoiding social gatherings?

  • I don’t have an answer for this one. The vaccine is thought to be the best hope for our community and people worldwide to return to activities safely. The rate at which vaccination is distributed will likely influence the time frame of return. The CDC recently published guidelines for what fully vaccinated people may do. You can read this at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html.
  • The Utah legislature recently passed legislation ending the state-wide mask mandate on April 10, 2021. However, this does not mean it becomes a free-for-all on April 10. There will continue to be some settings (gatherings larger than 50 people, K-12 schools, local areas with county-specific mandates) where masks may continue to be required.
  • Even then, life may look slightly different than it has in the past. 

Question 7: I had COVID. Should I still get the vaccine?

  • Yes. If you have recovered from a COVID-19 infection, you should still receive the vaccine. The CDC recommends you wait until 90 days from when you were infected before getting vaccinated. However, the vaccine’s protection is still thought to be helpful enough to warrant vaccination among those infected with the virus. 

Question 8: Which of the available vaccines should I get? 

  • I would recommend that you receive the vaccine that is made available to you. There are currently three vaccines approved for use in the United States. Each is considered effective and safe. 

This list is certainly not a comprehensive list of questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. It intended to answer some of the more common concerns that I have heard from my patients. If you have other concerns or further questions, I encourage you to reach out to your health care provider. We are here to provide answers and services for your healthcare needs. What to do with COVID vaccination is part of what we hope to offer for our patients and communities. 

Rudy Gobert is known for his outstanding defense. Vaccination against COVID-19 is here and gives us the most promising protection against COVID-19 in our attempts to escape the current pandemic. Canyon View Medical Group is pleased to be able to offer vaccination to the communities we serve. For more information and to schedule your vaccine appointment online, click the green “Schedule COVID-19 Vaccination” button below.

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