Our pediatrician and pediatric infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Francisco Gonzalez, is here to answer your frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccinations, so all of your concerns are addressed!
Q: Why should my child get vaccinated?
Like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine teaches the body’s immune system how to recognize and make antibodies that fight COVID. After your child is fully vaccinated (which occurs two weeks after they receive a second dose of the vaccine) your child is much less likely to contract COVID.
The vaccine is the best way to build up your child’s immunity, reduce the risk of hospitalization and severe illness, and decrease the risk of transmission. It also helps prevent long-haul COVID, which is when lasting, potentially debilitating symptoms of COVID continue long after recovery from the virus.
The reality is, COVID-19 is a novel virus with unknown and unexpected outcomes on the body. Vaccines prevent the risk of serious illness and death, in children and adults.
Q: What are pre-existing conditions that make my child more vulnerable?
Just like adults, children have pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID. Kids that have chronic respiratory conditions (i.e. asthma), obesity, sickle-cell anemia, or diabetes should make it a priority to get vaccinated. Additionally, according to the CDC, Black, Native American and Hispanic children were found to be three times more likely to be hospitalized than white children, which is why vaccination is so important.
Or, if a child has family members that are immunocompromised or at high risk, like grandparents, teachers or medically vulnerable classmates, vaccinating your children will be the best way to keep everyone in your community safe.
Q: If my child already had COVID, do they still need to be vaccinated?
Yes! The virus is hard to predict, and it’s still not known how long immunity persists after infection, especially if your child experienced milder symptoms. The vaccine is the best way to ensure long-lasting protection against the virus. According to a study conducted by the CDC, the odds of getting reinfected with COVID were 2.34 times more for unvaccinated individuals than vaccinated individuals.
Q: How many kids were tested in the clinical trials for the vaccine?
Pfizer-BioNTech’s clinical trial included more than 4,400 children between the ages 5-11. Researchers followed children enrolled in the vaccine trials for 126 days. During that time, there were 17 COVID cases in the placebo group, versus 3 COVID cases in the vaccinated groups. That’s a 91 percent vaccine efficacy rate when measured at a week post second dose.
These trials were focused on the optimal dosage for pediatric patients, and children will receive 1/3 of the adult dosage. The CDC assures us that COVID-19 vaccines have undergone — and will continue to undergo — the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
Q: Can my child still get the COVID-19 vaccine if they’re feeling under the weather?
Yes, if your child has the sniffles, it is still safe for them to receive the vaccine. If your child is feverish, it might be best to delay their vaccine appointment until their symptoms have subsided. Talk to your pediatrician beforehand if you have any concerns.
Q: How do I deal with my child’s vaccine side effects?
Children may experience similar side effects to adults, though they have been reported to be shorter in duration and more mild in many instances. Side effects may include: fatigue, muscle pain, headache, chills, fever and a sore arm. These symptoms should disappear after a day or so. If your child develops a fever, it’s safe to give them Tylenol or Motrin, and ice should help mitigate a sore arm.
Q: Will there be a third dose needed?
At the moment, we are not sure if/when a third dose will be recommended for pediatric patients. Ongoing Pfizer-BioNTech trial research is monitoring the immunity of those who have received the COVID vaccine, and more information will be made available regarding boosters in the months to come.
Q: Is it safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines?
Yes, it is safe. Your child can receive the COVID vaccine at the same time they get their flu shot, or any other vaccinations that they may be scheduled for.
Q: What is the best age for a kid to get the COVID shot? Is it safe for a 5-year-old?
Yes. The CDC has approved the Pfizer COVID vaccine for ages 5 and up. It’s best not to wait, as COVID cases are currently on the rise across the country and will continue to spread during the holiday season. TBHC strongly encourages all parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. If your child is on the cusp of an age group, like age 11 or turning 12 in between doses, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises children to go with the lower, 10 microgram dose for ages 5-11. The lower dosage in younger children provides as robust an immune response as it has in older adolescents with the higher dosage.
Q: What do I need to bring to my appointment?
Parents or Legal Guardians accompanying minor patients to their vaccine appointment should bring the following: photo identification (for the parent or guardian) and insurance card. You will need to consent to your child’s COVID vaccine via our vaccine consent form. We will give the child’s parent guardian their official CDC vaccination card once the appointment is complete.
Please take care of your, and your child’s, CDC vaccination card! TBHC is not able to provide replacements for lost or damaged CDC vaccination cards. Be sure to keep it in a safe, secure place, such as a file with other important documents like passports or birth certificates. Consider scanning your card to be stored in a safe digital location, or taking a photo with your smartphone as a backup, in addition to your physical copy.
Q: Where is the vaccine center?
Our COVID vaccine center is located at our main hospital campus (121 DeKalb Ave, Brooklyn NY 11201). When you arrive at the main lobby, the vaccine registration and check in area is located on the left side of the front desk. Once your paperwork is completed, a TBHC employee will direct you to take the main lobby elevators to 1R, where the vaccine center is located.
Q: How is my second appointment scheduled?
We will schedule your second appointment onsite, at the time of your first appointment.
If you need to change or reschedule your appointment, you can do so via our website tbh.org/vaccine or by calling 833-TBHC-NOW.