Now that children under the age of 5 are eligible to receive Covid vaccines, almost everyone in the U.S. can get vaccinated against the virus – but some questions still linger for parents of small children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine series and Moderna’s two-dose vaccine series for children under the age of 5 last week. Pfizer’s vaccine is for children aged 6 months through 4 years old — the drugmaker already had a vaccine authorized for 5-year-olds — and Moderna’s is for kids aged 6 months through 5 years old.
On Tuesday, healthcare workers began immunizing kids under 5 against the virus. Appointments may be limited at first, White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told reporters earlier this month, due largely to high initial demand: There are roughly 18 million U.S. children in the age group, and 10 million Pfizer and Moderna doses have been made available for state and local authorities by the federal government.
But Jha said he anticipates that after a few weeks, most parents who plan to vaccinate their children should easily be able to do so. That means you have a little bit of time to figure out the best strategy for your kid’s health.
Here’s what medical experts say you should know:
The answer to “should I get my kid a Covid shot?” is a resounding “yes,” especially considering the virus’ potential fatal effects on young children.
Following the emergence of Covid’s omicron variant in December, child hospitalizations skyrocketed and reached a pandemic high. Covid is the fifth-leading cause of death for children between aged 1 through 4 since March 2020, according to a CDC analysis of death certificate data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
And while the vaccines won’t offer total protection against Covid infection, they’re highly likely to make any symptoms significantly less severe — keeping your child from needing hospitalization.
“There’s myths out there, and one is that children don’t get seriously ill,” says Dr. Jill Foster, a pediatric infectious disease physician at the University of Minnesota Medical School, “But children do get seriously ill, and they are able to spread it to their family members.”
It might be tempting to wait until the fall, when the school year starts back up, to get your child vaccinated. That’s a bad idea, says Dr. Allen Radner, an infectious disease expert and chief medical officer of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System in California.
“The vaccine isn’t 100% effective immediately,” Radner says. The Pfizer vaccine series is administered over the course of three months, and the Moderna series over the course of one month. Radner also notes that the longer you wait, the more likely your child is to catch Covid while…