Adolescent Care -What do I need to know as a parent?
The COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine in preventing COVID-19 infection and the severe complications associated with the COVID-19 illness. The risks of getting COVID-19 and COVID-19 related complications are very high in kids that are not vaccinated such as MIC-S. MIC-S (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children) is a condition in which organs of the body become inflamed. Major organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys get so inflamed that serious complications can occur, requiring ICU admission (intensive-care unit). Being placed on a ventilator for respiratory support, requiring dialysis for kidney support, and sustaining long-term complications of heart damage from myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart) can occur. Currently, the risk for getting MIS-C is similar for both children with and without any predisposing medical condition.
Despite knowing this, I am still scared to get the vaccine for my child because of the potential vaccine side effects and the heart complications I have heard about!
The risk of getting COVID-19 illness and the potential long-term complications or even death far outweighs the risks of potential vaccine side effects.
The most common side effects for teenagers and young kids are the following:
- pain at the injection site
- redness and possible swelling (same as other vaccines).
- muscles aches/pains
Usually, the vaccine side effects last anywhere from 1 to 3 days. An important fact to understand is that as of April 2021, there have been hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines administered to kids 12 years and older. Out of those hundreds of millions there have been a little over a thousand cases of the extremely rare complications of myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccine admistration. This occurs more commonly in boys and younger adults ages 16 years and older. Given the hundreds of millions of doses given with only a little over a thousand with this rare side-effect complication this results in only 0.001% risk of getting this side effect. For comparison, the risk of dying in a car accident, based on 2019 data, is 0.93% (1 on 107), meaning that this you are 935 TIMES MORE LIKELY to die driving to the grocery store, work, or school than you are of getting myocarditis or pericarditis from the Covid-19 vaccine. The benefits of the vaccine in protecting your children against this terrible disease and the potential long- term complications it carries, including death, FAR outweighs the risks from vaccine side-effects.
How can I know if my child is experiencing any signs of either myocarditis or pericarditis after the vaccine?
The symptoms to watch for are the following:
-Shortness of breath
- Abnormal or heavy fast breathing
- Chest pain
- Feeling your heart racing (fast heartbeat) or heart pounding
If any of these occur, you would take your child immediately to seek medical care and take them to the nearest emergency room facility.
I have heard the COVID-19 vaccine can mess up my menstrual cycle and cause me to not be able to have kids?
A small number of women have reported changes in their menstrual cycles after either the COVID-19 infection or COVID-19 vaccine. However, there is no correlation with infertility. Furthermore, recall many things can change a women’s menstrual cycle, such as stress, changes in diet, sleep, and exercise. Most importantly, these are all transient changes that normalize over time.
Which vaccine is the one that I can get for my child and how are the doses given?
Currently the ONLY vaccine that is approved for our children and teens is the Pfizer-BioNTech. The vaccine is approved for emergency use authorization for kids 12 years old and older. It is administered as a 2-dose series with the second injection given 21 days after the first. It is important to also note that the vaccine does NOT have any live virus or virus particles in it.
Your child is considered fully vaccinated 2-weeks after the second dose of the vaccine
My child does not go anywhere, and we practice safe measures, and my child really does not get sick so why should I get the vaccine that I am not sure about?
While it is true that, in general, children are less affected by COVID-19 than adults, they can still get the coronavirus and all the complications that come with it. It is important to remember that we need children vaccinated to also help protect the community. If your child interacts with any grandparents, teachers, or other caregivers, they can spread this disease to those that are vulnerable. So, if there is a vaccine to protect against your child getting ill and at the same time protect the loved ones around your child then yes, it is important to get them vaccinated.
Let’s break it down: what is in the Pzier-BioNTech vaccine exactly, I want to know:
Active ingredient: mRNA
Inactive ingredient: Lipids, Salts, Sugar
It is as simple as that!! That is, it!!
What is mRNA: this is the ONLY active ingredient in this vaccine. mRNA are molecules that have genetic material that provide the body with instructions on how to make viral protein (NO LIVE VIRUS IN THEM). This allows our bodies to trigger an immune response to this protein and cause our bodies to make natural antibodies against the protein. This forms the protection against the coronavirus. mRNA DOES NOT alter or enter and change our DNA in any way, unlike a current myth going around. The material NEVER enters the nucleus which is where our DNA is kept thus, there is NO WAY to alter the DNA or make any changes to our bodies DNA.
What are Lipids: these are fatty, waxy, oily compounds that are body already has (including several foods and products we ingest daily). The purpose of this in the vaccine is to help coat the mRNA to allow it to slide into our cells.
Salts: same as we use every day; the purpose of this in the vaccine is to help balance the acidity of our body for the vaccine
Sugar: same was we use every day. The purpose of the sugar is to help the molecules maintain their shape during freezing. Simple and easy.
How effective is the vaccine for my child compared to when given to adults?
The great news is that so far the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection in those kids that are ages 12 years to 15 years of age. Unlike the 95% effectiveness for those 16 years and older which, means that about 5% of the population will not be protected against COVID-19 vaccine, it is incredible and a life changer to have a vaccine that is 100% effective against this horrific disease.
Can I give my child anything to help avoid any of the side effects?
It is recommended to give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever prior to getting the vaccination to help prevent side effects. This is safe and fine to do.
Finally, Which children should NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Currently the vaccine is not approved for those children younger than 12 years of age. Also, if any known severe allergies exist to any of the known ingredients than a child should speak with their medical care provider before getting the vaccine. Last, there are some children on immunosuppressive drugs and these children should first speak with their Pediatrician and other sub-specialist involved in their care to determine the proper time line that would be most optimal and safe for them to obtain the vaccine.
We hope this helps address some of the myths about COVID-19 vaccine that is out there and help support some educational information for you as the parent to consider and be well-informed prior to considering the COVID-19 vaccine.
Please give us a call at Healthy Kids Care at Sunrise for any additional questions we can address for you regarding COVID-19.
We look forward to hearing from you.
The Healthy Kids Care Team!
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Welcome! Our clinical team at Heathy Kids Care at Sunrise would like to thank you for taking a moment to visit our blog. As a parent and pediatrician, this may be the perfect forum to share experiences and ideas.