Children and the Covid Vaccine: What Parents Need to Know

Many parents are confused about having to schedule Covid shots with other vaccinations for children as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed their guidelines. Previously, the agency said children and adults should wait two weeks before or after a Covid vaccine to get another vaccination. The CDC said the initial restriction was a precautionary measure in the early days of vaccine distribution, but now it says Covid vaccines and other vaccines can be given no matter when.

“Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop a protection called an immune response after vaccination and possible side effects of vaccines are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines “says the CDC.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement supporting the change, especially for children and teenagers who are due for other childhood vaccinations or who have not followed the recommended schedule. The CDC notes that if more than one vaccine is given at the same time, the injections can be given in different parts of the body.

Fever was slightly more common in 12-15 year olds compared to adults, but in general the side effects reported in children were similar to those in the elderly. The FDA stated that the most commonly reported side effects among participants in the adolescent clinical trial were injection site pain, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever, and joint pain. The side effects usually lasted for one to three days. Although injection site pain was common after both shots, more teenagers reported side effects after the second dose than after the first dose. In general, younger people tend to have stronger immune responses than older people because they have more robust immune systems. It is possible for children to experience more side effects than their parents with the same intake.

Children should not receive the Pfizer vaccine if they have had a history of severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine (e.g. polyethylene glycol). Allergies to the vaccine components are rare. A full list of ingredients can be found here. The vaccine does not contain eggs, preservatives or latex. If in doubt or not sure, talk to your pediatrician before vaccinating your child.

If your child has severe allergies to something else (medication, food, bees), plan to stay at the vaccination site for 30 minutes after the injection, instead of the 15 minutes the general population should wait.

You shouldn’t give your child pain medication before vaccination. And don’t give it right after the shot either to ward off side effects. Wait until symptoms develop and the child becomes unwell before giving acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Studies show that many parents make the mistake of giving children over-the-counter pain relievers shortly before childhood vaccination in hopes of reducing side effects. However, blunting side effects with premedication can also make the vaccine less effective. If your child develops a headache, body ache, or other side effects that require pain relief, it’s okay to give them the recommended dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever.

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