Children and COVID-19 Vaccines: Navigating Information and Decision-Making

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If you are a fan of modern medicine and a parent, then you are likely overjoyed with the recent approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. 

Specifically, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for children as young as 5 years old. What great news! Vaccination can be a gateway back to enjoying pre-pandemic activities with a peace of mind. 

Despite this great news, misinformation continues to creep into our lives from all kinds of sources-the news, websites, podcasts, and your family member with all the opinions and few of the facts (nearly all of us have someone like this in our lives). In short, public health has become political amid the pandemic. 

Fortunately, we’re here to help! Please see our suggestions for navigating information and decision-making related to vaccinations for your child:

  1. Stick to legitimate sources of information. Go ahead and put down your TV remote and avoid calling your friend who is a self-appointed public health expert. For legitimate, evidence-based information on vaccinating your child, look to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your local public health agencies. Additionally, consult with your child’s licensed pediatrician for a more detailed exploration of whether or not to vaccinate your child. Your child’s pediatrician will be able to help you arrive at a safe decision.
  2. Prepare for side effects. Children who receive the vaccine may experience side effects, but these will vary widely across individuals. Some possible side effects may include pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site or tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea. If possible, try to schedule your child’s vaccine around a time where they will have the option to rest for a few days afterwards. A great option is to schedule the vaccine for a Friday morning so your child can rest through the weekend.  
  3. Locating vaccination sites. The CDC has some great recommendations for locating vaccination sites near you. Options include searching on vaccines.gov, investigating local pharmacy websites for vaccination appointments, and calling your state health department. Check out this webpage on the CDC website for further information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/How-Do-I-Get-a-COVID-19-Vaccine.html
  4. Remember these vaccines are safe for children. Despite the differences of opinions across news outlets and your friends and family members, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is indeed generally safe for children between the ages of 5 to 11 years old. However, it is still important to discuss vaccination options with your child’s pediatrician, especially if your child has preexisting medical conditions. Negative side effects for children, such as myocarditis and allergic reactions, are exceedingly rare. 
  5. Know the basic myths and facts surrounding COVID-19 vaccines. No, the vaccine does not contain government-back microchips, nor does it turn you into a human magnet. These vaccines are well-researched, safe, and effective for the majority of people. Check out this page on the CDC website for further information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html 

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