Prepping for Your Child's COVID-19 Vaccine Shot
A Q&A with Dr. Corey Fish
Let’s face it—there’s a lot of information swirling around about the COVID-19 vaccine. From misleading headlines in the news to gossip and misinformation among communities, it’s hard to know what to expect when your child gets the COVID-19 vaccine. I've been receiving a lot of questions as we start to roll-out Brave Care's COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids, so I wanted to set the record straight for all of our families and community.
How can we talk to our kids about the experience of side effects and ease their fears?
I recommend telling your child that the side effects are the vaccine “doing it’s job” or a “sign that the vaccine is working.” (The absence of side effects, of course, doesn’t mean that the vaccine didn’t work!) Reassure your child that they’ll feel better in a couple of days—giving them tylenol or ibuprofen may also help them feel better.
Will my child experience the same side effects that I had?
Not necessarily. The risk of side effects is the same and applies to each person who receives the shot individually. Just because you had a fever doesn’t mean your child will.
If my child does experience side effects, when will they appear? How long will they last?
Side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine usually appear about 12-24 hours after the vaccine and last for a day or two.
Will the vaccine have side effects specific to kids with certain pre-existing conditions that parents should be aware of?
There’s no indication that side effects will be different for kids than it is for adults. Kids with prior history of anaphylactic reactions to vaccines should make sure their healthcare provider is aware of this before administering the vaccine.
Will my child faint?
It’s possible but unlikely. Fainting is a pretty normal reaction to vaccines for adolescents. Some kids react this way more than others, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the type of vaccine. When it happens, it’s within the first five to ten minutes or so, and lasts for only a few seconds. We observe all of our COVID-19 vaccine patients for at least 15 minutes post vaccine. If your child is feeling faint, we will lay them down and bring them something sugary to drink, like juice.
How long after the doses of the vaccine will my child be fully immunized? Will it take more (or less?) time then the adult dose did?
It’s the same as adults. Two weeks after the second dose is when people are considered to be fully vaccinated.
Should we take our kids to be COVID tested when they have COVID-similar symptoms even after they get vaccinated?
Yes! No vaccine is 100% effective and until the vaccination rates in the US reach levels high enough to lead to herd immunity (probably somewhere around 90% of the population), testing will be an important tool to help prevent unnecessary exposures.
I read that the vaccine was rushed and wasn’t tested?
Two important things to consider here. One is that some work was done on vaccines for the original SARS vaccine during the SARS outbreak of 2003. There’s some similarities with mRNA type COVID Vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna with gene therapy (which is where people with genetic disease have a “healthy” copy of the gene inserted into their DNA). Gene therapy was first successfully carried out in 1990! That means studies on this technique started even earlier. The vaccine wasn’t rushed, it’s simply a wonderful example of what happens when the world’s entire scientific community is singularly focused on solving a problem.
The vaccine won’t “really” be approved for years. Should my kid just wait?
The FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine! You may hear about it now by a new name, "Comirnaty," which is just the vaccine's brand name. (Don't worry, we need to practice pronouncing it, too: Koe-mir'-na-tee.) Both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still under approval—simply because the FDA scientists are being cautious and studying the people who have been vaccinated for months now. There’s absolutely no indication of some hidden or delayed set of side effects, they’re just being extra cautious.
But I hear that lots of people have died from the vaccine.
No. Three deaths have been reported—and those were associated with blood clots from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in people with very specific risk factors likely associated. The vaccine adverse events reporting system requires no verification for submission. If a patient has gotten the vaccine, and then dies later (no matter what the actual cause) a report may be submitted. These reports are reviewed with a fine tooth comb. To date, none of the other reports of death have been found to be linked to the vaccine. What is verifiable is that in the US alone, >600,000 people have died from COVID-19 disease.
Kids don’t get COVID, right?
Incorrect. It’s still a bit unclear with the Delta Variant, but generally kiddos—especially those under 12 years old—are less likely to get COVID-19 or spread it to others. When they do get it, it’s often less severe. However, they absolutely can still get and spread it. Vaccinating children is an incredibly important step in eliminating COVID-19.
Aren’t “Big Pharma” companies just trying to profit off of vaccines?
While I’m sure that money is being made from COVID-19 vaccines and treatment, or will be made at some point, vaccine manufacturers are providing COVID-19 vaccines at no cost. We don’t pay for them, the states don’t pay for them, and we don’t charge patients for them.
This is a government conspiracy and providers are getting kick-backs for each patient they vaccinate, so of course they want to vaccinate all the kids now, right?
If providers are getting kick-backs, no one told me about it.
I heard that the vaccine is causing heart inflammation in kids?
There have been cases of myocarditis (heart inflammation) in kids who have gotten the vaccine. What’s important here is that this number is incredibly small, and all cases of this in vaccine recipients have gotten better all by themselves. COVID-19 by itself can cause instances of heart muscle inflammation as well. To put this in perspective, if you fill a stadium with 100,000 males age 16-39 (the group most likely to experience heart muscle inflammation after the vaccine), two will develop short lived heart inflammation. If you vaccinate none, about 1,300 will develop COVID-19 disease. Much more serious heart inflammation can occur with COVID-19 disease making vaccinating the much safer choice.
If my kid gets COVID-19, won’t they have a natural immunity for life?
No one knows exactly how long COVID-19 natural immunity lasts, plus, the immunity shown by COVID-19 infection is only related to infection with the specific variant that made the person sick. As we all know, COVID is changing all the time and so far only the vaccine has proven to be effective against multiple strains of SARS-CoV-2.
Aren’t there long-term effects of kids getting COVID-19? Will the vaccine prevent those effects?
There absolutely are. If we can prevent COVID-19 or make the disease less severe by vaccinating our kiddos, we can prevent these long lasting side effects.
All vaccines are dangerous and put our kids at risk for autism and other conditions—why would the COVID-19 vaccine be any different?
Vaccines are not dangerous. All vaccines we use are safe and effective. There is no indication across many millions of doses of widespread, severe side effects. In fact, serious reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine, like an allergic reaction, are incredibly rare.
My household and I will not be getting the vaccine—it’s our choice and it shouldn’t impact anyone else.
Sadly, it does impact others. If you don’t do it for you, do it for your family, friends, neighbors, and most of all the little ones who can’t be vaccinated. 1 in 20 kids who are hospitalized with COVID-19 disease will develop very serious neurologic conditions such as seizures, behavior changes, or onset of severe psychosis. Hopefully these children get better but all indications point to this being a permanent condition.
How can I best keep up with all of the information coming out?
Talk to your child’s healthcare professional or give our expert pediatric care team a call.
Where can I get my child’s COVID-19 vaccine shot?
We’re holding free, weekly clinics. Click here to book an appointment.