Young children can now get the COVID-19 vaccine. Here's what some Iowa pediatricians have to say about it.
Iowa health care providers have started giving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children age 5 to 11, a development that pediatricians say will help families return to a greater sense of normalcy.
“This is something that will make it easier and safer for children to go to school, to be part of events they like to participate in,” said Dr. Eric Haugen with Blank Children’s Hospital at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines. UnityPoint Health started getting the shot into the arms of children in this age group Monday across Iowa.
Haugen said with the holiday season coming up, children who are vaccinated will be less likely to spread the coronavirus to family members they gather with.
Across the country, more than 8,300 children have been hospitalized because of COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late October gave the green light for the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. The FDA said the vaccine, which has a lower dose than the one given to people 12 and older, was found to be effective at preventing COVID-19. Children who were part of a vaccine study experienced no serious side effects.
With the vaccine’s availability to this young age group, pediatricians have been fielding a lot of questions from parents. Many parents are excited. Some are hesitant.
“Our stance at Blank is that the vaccination is safe, it's effective, it's something that we recommend that everybody gets,” Haugen said.
Dr. Sara Schutte with MercyOne Ankeny Pediatrics Care said she’s had similar conversations with parents who have shared their questions and concerns. She said she talks to them about the COVID-19 vaccine studies done, and when some parents express hesitancy over not knowing the longterm side effects of the vaccine, Schutte said she points to the unknowns around COVID-19’s longterm side effects.
“I don’t want to wait until we find out what the longterm side effects of the disease are,” Schutte said. “We’ve got to keep these kids healthy now.”
But it’s not always an easy task giving children shots. Schutte said some of the youngest kids are often anxious, so it takes a bit more coaxing and more nurses on the ground to help them through it.
“But kids do very well in general,” Schutte said. “They’re more anxious about getting vaccines of any kind and then by the time we get it done, they actually are not quite as bad as they thought.”
Just like everyone age 12 and up, children ages 5 to 11 are getting Pfizer’s COVID vaccine in two doses at a minimum of three weeks apart.