While the COVID-19 vaccine differs from other vaccines in many ways, patients and parents of younger patients still need to compare the risks and benefits.
“It is true that in general, children are at a lower risk of severe COVID disease, hospitalization and death compared to adults. However, their risk is certainly not zero,” said Dr. Elizabeth Lloyd, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician, University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital.
She and two other doctors answered questions Wednesday night at a Facebook Live city hall event sponsored by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The MDHHS has reported that 1.7% of children ages 5 to 11 have already received the age-group COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA last week.
“We know there have been more than 8,000 hospitalizations in the US over the course of this pandemic, specifically in this age group of 5-11 years, with an additional 2,300 cases of MIS-C or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. (There are also) 94 deaths in this age group,” Lloyd said. “(That) doesn’t necessarily sound like a huge number, but it ends up making COVID one of the top 10 causes of death in this age group in children over the past year. These can now be prevented with the vaccine.”
Lloyd said that when making a medical decision, whether to get a new vaccine or a different drug, the risks and benefits must be weighed up.
“During the review process, the FDA and CDC both conducted a large-scale risk-benefit analysis, looking in part at the benefits of the vaccine to the extent that the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths could be prevented and weighing it against the risks of the vaccine. usually looks at cases of myocarditis,” Lloyd said.
She said what they found widely is that the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
“Even on an individual level, for most children, the benefits will really outweigh the potential risks,” Lloyd said.
At the top of the list of benefits is a significantly reduced chance of COVID, including serious infection.
“We also know that the pandemic has affected children in many other ways, so the vaccine may benefit children by having fewer disruptions from classroom exposures, exposures in their day-to-day activities that we know are very important for normal child development,” Lloyd said. “It may also reduce the risk of passing the virus on to high-risk relatives, such as grandparents or siblings. There are really many different benefits at the individual and community level.”
Still, she urges parents to talk to their child’s medical provider.
While certainly with something new being introduced into the body, an allergic reaction can occur according to Dr. Joseph Fakhoury, Pediatric Hospitalist, Bronson Pediatric Medicine Hospital Specialists; Chairman, Immunization Task Force, Michigan Division of the American Academy of Pediatrics. But they don’t see serious reactions like anaphylaxis.
“These have been extremely, extremely rare. What we’re seeing more of is what we’re seeing similar to other vaccines that many adults and adolescents have already experienced. That’s typically a sore arm, redness around the spot, maybe extra fatigue, and possibly pain in the back.” the body,” said Fakhoury.
An observation period of approximately 15 minutes after receiving the immunization is recommended as this is when the risk of anaphylaxis is greatest. This is a common protocol with many vaccines.
The next virtual town hall, sponsored by MDHHS, is scheduled for 12 noon on November 18 on the MDHHS Facebook page.