COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 5-11: Answering Top Questions With Michael Cinoman, MD
Michael Cinoman, MD, executive medical director of pediatric services, covers the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines for kids in this 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.
When will children ages 5-11 be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
"Hopefully very soon! Just as you said, the FDA is finalizing its presumed approval of the vaccine. It then goes to the cdc, and it's quite possible that in the first week of November -- nobody really knows for sure -- the vaccine will be authorized for emergency administration for children 5 to 11."
As soon as it's approved, will children be able to get the vaccine?
"Because we've already had the vaccine and we know how to handle it, administer it, keep it stored correctly and do all the documentation, we should be ready to go pretty soon after the vaccine is approved to be available. It's the same vaccine that is given -- in this case, the Pfizer vaccine -- there's nothing different about it than what is given to adults. However, the dose is one-third the dose that it would be given to adults -- so the dosing is different, but the vaccine itself is exactly the same."
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-11?
"A very common question! I would say it's as safe as it is in adults, and that is, as vaccines go, extraordinarily safe. People have read and heard about all kinds of side effects and things, but in general, what we have is a vaccine that is phenomenally effective as vaccines go in preventing a disease, in this case COVID-19. It works really, really well."
What are the side effects?
"In terms of side effects, usually when they do occur, it's mild pain at the site of injection. Some people will experience some headaches and feel sort of sick for a day or so. That is not particularly common, but it definitely occurs. It's a little more common after the second shot than the first. Some people will even get a fever and feel flu-like afterward, but usually these side effects resolve within a day or a day and a half.
Is heart inflammation (myocarditis) connected to the COVID-19 vaccine for kids?
"Myocarditis, or inflammation the heart muscle, or the tissue that surrounds the heart -- pericarditis -- that people believe is real and does occur related to the vaccine. However it's extraordinarily rare, and it's almost uniformly self-resolving."
"Nobody wants to get inflammation of their heart muscle or have symptoms from myocarditis after a vaccine, but you're talking about literally one for less than 100,000 people getting a vaccine. It's very rare and self-resolving."
"And the important point about this is, I think, is it's fairly clear at this point that the risk of getting myocarditis or inflammation of your heart muscle is significantly greater from catching COVID-19 than it is from getting the vaccine."
Why should kids 5-11 get the COVID-19 vaccine?
"We have vaccinated hundreds of millions of people in the United States alone, and you're still talking about an effective rate of over 90% in preventing disease."
"We know that it's really good at keeping people out of the hospital and dying from the disease. I think everyone has heard -- and it is true -- you can certainly get what people call breakthrough infections after you've been vaccinated, you can still get COVID. But the symptoms are much milder and you are protected from becoming very ill.
"We still have a number of people in the hospital -- we know that the rates are going down, but they're still extraordinarily common in the community and in the United States, and there are still many people hospitalized every day, and there are deaths and real serious complications from COVID. The vast majority of those cases -- not a 100%, but the vast majority -- are occurring still in people who have not been vaccinated."