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Common Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines and Kids

Q&A with Pediatrician Katie Cameron, MD

Published on March 16, 2021

Read Time: Three Minutes

Katie Cameron, MD, a pediatrician with the Phelps Health Medical Group, discusses common questions she is often asked about COVID-19 vaccines and kids.

Q: How important is it for kids to stay on track with routine and preventive care, even during a pandemic?

A: Kids should still come in for routine care, such as wellness check-ups and especially for immunizations. We don't want to leave kids at risk for contracting other serious illnesses just because we are trying to manage and navigate all of the challenges that come with COVID-19. I think we have done a good job of making sure kids still have great access to care. We still have kids come into our clinic, we are able to use telemedicine options, and we have taken general precautions to make sure we are keeping our clinic safe, so parents don’t have to be worried about exposing their children to illness.

Q: What ages can take the available COVID-19 vaccines? Are any authorized for kids?

A: Right now, the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and up, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are for ages 18 and up. The only COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for pediatric patients is Pfizer, and again, it’s only for older kids.

Q: When can we expect to see a COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids, such as infants/toddlers, grade school ages or young teenagers?

A: A lot of work is currently being done for kids in the pediatric age group. The 12- to 16-year-old age range is already being studied, and we are hoping that the results from these studies will come out in late summer or early fall. Hopefully, the 12- to 16-year-old age range will be eligible [to receive a vaccine] before the end of this year. All three manufacturers of the vaccines currently available in the U.S. [Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson] are starting to enroll for pediatric research studies, and those studies will focus on the younger age groups, some of them as low as six months of age.

Q: Why wasn’t a COVID-19 vaccine created for kids at the same time it was for adults?

A: I think there are multiple reasons for that. One of the reasons is just that there was a pressing need for adults, because they were at the highest risk of [contracting] serious illness [from COVID-19] and that needed to be evaluated first. We needed to make sure we had a safe and effective vaccine that could be used for adults. The other reason is that children's immune systems are really different from adults, and there are lots of different factors to consider, such as what kind of dosing is needed, how effective the vaccines are, and how the immune system responds to them at various ages. Our [vaccine] doses and schedules are based on the immune response [that] is generated [in our bodies]. That [immune response] varies across age groups and requires more in-depth studies for these different age groups.

Q: There has been a lot of discussion about the different kinds of vaccines and which one to get. Ultimately, is the best vaccine to get the one that is available to you?

A: That’s right. We want to protect as many people as possible, because that will help limit the spread in our community and limit the amount of serious illness. All three approved vaccines are very effective, especially at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Q: You are not only a physician, but you also are a parent. When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available for kids, do you plan to have your kids vaccinated?

A: Yes. That’s something we plan to do in our family once the research studies are established and the vaccine is available for kids. As a physician and parent, I look at the research and data from the studies and [assess] the risks and benefits. I do think the benefit of being protected from COVID-19 for each individual, for each family and our whole community will far outweigh any risks.

COVID-19 Vaccination and Kids

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Listen to Pediatrician Dr. Katie Cameron, with the Phelps Health Medical Group, talk about COVID-19 vaccination.

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Found in: Child COVID-19 Pediatrics Wellness