Pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations are coming to Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River on Nov. 15. What do you need to know when deciding if and how to vaccinate your child?
Q: How can I get my child vaccinated at Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River?
A: Pediatric vaccinations against COVID-19 will be offered at the clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1300-1500 staring on Monday, Nov. 15. An appointment is required and can be made at https://informatics-stage.health.mil/COVAX/. Children ages 5-11 are eligible (children age 12 or older will receive an adult dose).
Q: How do I know if the vaccine is right for my child?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5-11. If you are unsure if the vaccine is right for your children, talk to your provider and make them aware of any medical conditions, including reactions to previous vaccines.
Q: How is the vaccine given to children?
A: The Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a two-dose series, 21-days apart. Each dose contains 10mg of the vaccine, which is one third the adult dose. It is an intramuscular injection.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children ages 5-11 and has proven to prevent symptomatic infections. Millions of Americans have been safely vaccinated.
Q: Why should I get my child vaccinated?
A: The CDC recommends that children age 5-11 receive a pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. After two 10mg doses, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was approximately 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in children age 5-11 and caused no unexpected safety issues. COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (inflammatory syndromes) and long-term complications, such as “long COVID,” in which symptoms can linger for months. Children with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. Vaccinating will protect children from getting COVID-19 and reduce their risk of severe disease, hospitalization or developing long-term COVID-19 complications. Getting your children vaccinated can help protect them against COVID-19, as well as reduce disruptions to in-person learning and activities by helping curb community transmission.
Q: What should we expect at our appointment?
A: You and your child (everyone age 2 and older) will be required to wear a face mask covering your nose and mouth while inside the clinic. Social distancing will be enforced and, due to limited space, clinic staff requests that only one parent or guardian accompany each child being vaccinated. The vaccine will be administered like any other and will only take a few minutes, including 15 minutes of observation after the shot. Clinic staff will answer any questions you may have and advise you when to get the second dose.
Q: What are the possible side effects?
A: Severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylactic shock, are possible, but rare. Side effects are typically minor and can include swelling, redness, and pain at the injection site; fever; headache; tiredness; muscle pain; chills; and nausea.
Q: Who should not get the vaccine?
A: If your child has a history of a severe allergic reaction to a component of the vaccine, talk to your pediatrician to determine if it is safe to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 pediatric vaccine.
Q: Is my child required to get the vaccine?
A: No. Parents currently have the option whether to vaccinate their children. If you decide against vaccination, it will not change your child’s standard medical care.
Q: Are there other vaccine options for children?
A: For children 5-11 years old, the CDC recommends a pediatric dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, no other COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for this age group.
Q: Will I get a vaccine card for my child?
A: Yes. There is no difference between the adult and child vaccine card. When your child gets the first dose, you will get a vaccination card. This will include the date of initial dose as well as the date for the second date. Remember to bring the card when your child returns for their second dose.
Q: Where can I get additional information?
Additional information is available from the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html. You can also learn more at https://tricare.mil/covidvaccine. The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides guidance at https://www.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/.
(Source: Defense Health Agency)