Jamestown Pediatrics offers the COVID-19 vaccine for children, one of several options now available to local parents.
dr. Lynn Dunham, Dr. Jerzy Przygodzki, Dr. Carrie Rowan, Dr. Barbara Mincarelli and Dr. Elizabeth Daniels DO shared their thoughts on the matter, as well as what they’ve seen so far with the pediatric vaccines.
Dunham said Jamestown Pediatrics will provide COVID-19 vaccines to their patients aged 5 to 11.
“We offer it for when kids come in for their pit visits and for any other visits they see in the office for non-sick visits,” she said. “We are also planning COVID clinics here that are currently based on the availability of nurses to provide the services. We hope to increase it over time, but at the moment it’s about once a week.”
Dunham said the practice has seen many families benefit from the availability of the pediatric vaccine. Due to high demand, she said there are “still a handful of spots left.”
“We actually have quite a few clinics in December, and of those people have signed up and filled the schedule before we’ve even been able to publicly announce some dates for more places,” said Dunham. “I think the largest number of vaccinations have come into the province through the JCC clinics that the province has done so far. I think Wille is expanding to other locations over time and they have other locations in the county as well, but ours here have been going really well.
Vaccinations are currently available by appointment or through the clinics in the practice, which will be announced as they become available. Patients must currently be a patient of the practice and can call the practice for more information.
Dunham said the practice currently recommends that parents have their children vaccinated against COVID-19 when they are between the ages of 5 and 11.
“I think the mRNA vaccinations are extremely safe and very effective,” she said. “They have been studied for a long time. This was an emergency authorization for them, but they have been looked at really closely and they are safe and effective for children.”
Daniels said she gets a lot of questions from parents about the risks of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination for children.
“The side effects you see are right away within two weeks of having immunization available, even in polio and some of the older ones,” said Daniels. “The great thing about this is that we now have data to support this, the safety and especially for the 5 to 11 group, their safety profile was expanded at the request of the FDA. There are more children in the study trials that have shown its safety and we don’t have any situations that we’ve seen that we should be concerned about I think for all of our kids especially our kids who have medical risks we see their safety with the COVID vaccine is much greater than with COVID itself .”
Daniels added that most children have a mild reaction to the vaccine. Parents don’t necessarily have to schedule their appointment on a particular day of the week to make sure their kids don’t miss school because of the vaccine, she said.
“So far the study data and the kids we’ve had here who have received the vaccine had very mild symptoms, and most of which I might add, including my kids, didn’t even have a sore arm after the first dose. The second dose in the study data looks like a headache and maybe it’s sore arms, so we don’t expect kids to get a big fever or anything like that after this. This dose is one-third the adult dose in the Pfizer immunization.”
Dunham said she has also received questions from parents about these issues, including heart problems in children.
“Parents are concerned about that, myocarditis and/or pericarditis, the side effects that are possible with the vaccine, but it’s extremely, extremely rare. When that’s done, it’s usually very acute in nature versus the cardiac side effect of COVID-19 itself, which may last much longer. Both are extreme raters in children.”
Dunham pointed out that the practice encourages parents to have their children vaccinated whether or not they get the vaccinations in their facility. Instead, the practice encourages families to seek out the vaccine when it’s available.
“We strongly encourage children to get whatever they can get, but if people feel comfortable here with us, we want to be there for them,” she said. “However, we would also support them to get it where they can get it available first.”
Daniels said it’s important for parents to keep an eye out as we head into the holiday season, as COVID can have very mild symptoms.
“In children, they can often have a very mild course of symptoms,” she said. Some don’t – some have more severe symptoms, but many mild symptoms could be COVID, so it’s very important to use your judgment, and if your kids aren’t feeling well, don’t just assume they’re allergies. It really could be an infection. It’s recommended that if you’re around people who haven’t been vaccinated or your kids aren’t fully protected before your gathering, it’s not a bad idea to do that test at home and make sure you’re not spreading that.”
Daniels added that wearing a mask in a large group setting is also still advised.
“I know it’s nice to see people, but when you’re traveling or out and about, be very careful about natural hand washing, but also using your mask and being conscientious about those things when you’re gone.”
Childhood vaccines are also made available through clinics at SUNY Fredonia and Chautauqua Lake Central School, as well as through local pharmacies.