By Edward Henderson, California Black Media
As parents across California focus on buying new clothes, school supplies and technology aids for their children for the upcoming school year, public health officials and medical professionals are asking them to consider the COVID-19 vaccine as a back-to-school essential.
In June, COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for children 6 months to 4 years old. Therefore, approximately 2.2 million children in California and nearly 20 million children under age 5 in the United States are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
Although data from trials involving thousands of infants and toddlers over the age of 6 months show that vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to prevent serious health problems in young people and their families, many parents are reluctant to have their young children vaccinated. .
The Pfizer vaccine trials enrolled approximately 4,500 infants and toddlers over 6 months old. They proved that the vaccine was effective against COVID-19 and showed a strong antibody response in children receiving the vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine trials involved more than 6,500 infants and toddlers over 6 months old. They also proved that the vaccine was effective against COVID-19 and showed a strong antibody response in children who received it.
Dr. Jennifer Miller, a pediatrician at East Bay Pediatrics, spoke about her experiences with parents in her practice regarding the vaccine during a virtual press conference hosted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
“For hesitant and questioning families, I try to understand what their fears and questions are. I try to remind them that we are in the same boat. I care about the health and well-being of their children and will always provide them with the best course possible,” she said. “I let them know that ultimately it’s their decision to make, and I’m here as a resource. It’s normal to be afraid of the unknown and to want to protect your child. In this mind, vaccination is the best protection there is.”
COVID-19 vaccines were only licensed in the United States after three phases of clinical trials that show the vaccines are effective in protecting against the virus.
For clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine with children under the age of 5, infants and toddlers of different ethnicities have been recruited to ensure the vaccine is still effective.
Upon completion of the trials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined, after rigorous analysis, that the data met their high standards for safety, efficacy, and manufacturing quality.
Since the vaccines were cleared for emergency use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses platforms like V-safe and VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) to monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness. .
Children ages 3 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine at pharmacies, while children under 3 will need to see their pediatrician or small community clinics due to federal regulations. The state has purchased enough vaccine for every child in California, with the first shipment of 500,000 doses arriving last month.
The Moderna vaccine for children under 4 is a two-dose vaccine like the dosage for adults, with one month between doses.
The Pfizer vaccine is made up of three doses. The first dose is followed by the second 21 days later and the last dose occurs 60 days later.
The Moderna dose is 1/4 of an adult dose and the Pfizer vaccine is 1/10 of the adult dose. Tests show that the side effects of fever and minor pain at the injection site may be stronger in children who receive the Moderna vaccine.
Protecting everyone in the household is a top priority as we approach the new school year. For the first time since the pandemic, vaccines are available for the whole family. Age is no longer a factor.
The data also showed that the vaccine is effective for pregnant women and safe for their unborn children. Additional protections can also be given to them while they are still in the womb.
Dr. Sarah Takekawa, an obstetrician-gynecologist, is currently raising three children under the age of 5. She spoke at the CDPH’s virtual press conference about concerns pregnant women may have about the vaccine and its effects on children. Takekawa was fully vaccinated before conceiving her third child and received her booster during her pregnancy.
“I have seen with my own eyes what COVID-19 infection can do to otherwise very healthy young women during pregnancy. Seeing first hand otherwise healthy adults succumb to the disease , we find it easy to make the decision to get vaccinated and to encourage other parents to get their children vaccinated, but we also understand that this is a discussion that needs to take place.
You can view the entire Department of Public Health digital press conference here or at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-BRl0_CdjDA6XsQMUyr3vKWzYGygjGo5/view and learn more about the youth vaccine . You can also visit Vaccinate All 58 to learn more about safe and effective vaccines available to all Californians ages 6 months and older.