(CNN) — Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5 will be available this week. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have approved the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. However, as with any vaccine, children may experience some side effects.
Safety data from Moderna and Pfizer, reviewed by the FDA and CDC, found that potential side effects were mostly mild and short-lived.
For parents and caregivers planning to vaccinate their children, pediatricians say there are a few things to keep in mind, often the same effects adults or older children might have experienced after vaccinations.
Side effects of the covid-19 vaccine in children
“Overall, I think the most common side effects of any of the vaccines are still the most common side effects that we see in virtually any child who receives any vaccine,” said Dr. Grant Paulsen, the site’s principal investigator for clinical trials. of Pfizer and Moderna covid-19 vaccines for children 6 months to 11 years at Cincinnati Children’s.
The most common side effects include pain at the injection site and sometimes swelling or redness.
“Those are all what I would classify as pretty common side effects that most parents who have taken their kids to the doctor for their various hepatitis and tetanus shots and all that kind of stuff were probably pretty used to. Paulsen said.
Regarding systemic or generalized symptoms, the most common was fatigue or drowsiness. Some children had irritability, loss of appetite, headache, abdominal pain or discomfort, enlarged lymph nodes, mild diarrhea, or vomiting. But they all got better quickly.
“It’s very similar to side effects that we’ve seen in older kids or adults. Around 24 hours, some kids, you know, don’t feel as good, they feel tired, they don’t have the same appetite. But luckily, it hasn’t There have been no serious side effects from these vaccines,” Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid-19 response coordinator on CBS, said Monday. “And again, after giving these vaccines to millions of children, it’s really reassuring. know that for young children these vaccines are extremely safe.
Side effects were mild to moderate and were much less common in this younger age group than in older people, Paulsen said.
“My big picture for parents is really [que] side effects shouldn’t be alarming,” Paulsen said.
Chance of vaccine fever
Children were slightly more likely to have a fever with the Moderna vaccine; it happened to about a quarter of trial participants, compared with less than 10% who got the Pfizer vaccine. Most of the fevers were mild. Less than 1% of all trial participants had a fever reaching 40 degrees Celsius.
“That was weird, but I feel like if we’re not honest with parents, when these things come up, that’s going to be concerning,” Paulsen said.
Because fevers were not common, Paulsen does not recommend pretreating a child by giving them a fever-reducing medication before the COVID-19 vaccine.
If the child has a fever, he said, parents can give him ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
“Most likely, most kids will do fine with minimal problems,” he said.
The vaccines did not produce any cases of myocarditis
The scientists conducting the trials in the younger children also looked closely to see if any of the children had problems with myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, because there were some cases of this among older children and adults. In most of those cases, the symptoms quickly disappeared.
But myocarditis was not found to be a problem in trials in young children.
“Of course, we have all the mechanisms in place once we start vaccinating children next week. If we start to see it, all those bells and whistles will go off and get our attention,” said Dr. Claudia Hoyen, chief control officer. of pediatric infections at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. “But we don’t expect to see that. We really didn’t see it in 5- to 11-year-olds, either.”
Vaccines are “an extra layer of protection”
Because children get severe COVID-19 less often than adults, some parents may wonder if they should bother vaccinating their little ones. However, Covid-19 has been “pretty common” in children, Jha said. He said nearly 70% of children have been infected at some point, but they can always get it again, and even if it was mild the first time, that doesn’t mean it will be the next.
“It’s still worth getting vaccinated, it really does offer an extra level of protection, an extra layer of protection. What vaccines do is keep children out of the hospital, and that’s why they’re so effective and everyone deserves that protection,” Jha said. .
Dr. Suchitra Rao says it’s important to note that covid-19 is now one of the vaccine-preventable diseases with the highest fatality rate.
“If we look at this age group, we’ll see that covid has killed more than 200 children ages 6 months to 5 years since January 2020. And if we want to compare that to something like influenza, those numbers are actually higher than what we’ve been seeing annually for all children under the age of 18 with influenza,” said Rao, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital in Colorado.
“We’re getting routine vaccinations against measles and against pneumococcal disease and meningitis. That’s something that’s actually causing more deaths,” he added. “Safety in this younger age group is quite, quite good and even better than other groups.”
Rao said some parents have asked if they should worry about long-term side effects. She assures them that if there were any, they would have appeared in clinical trials.
“The FDA and then the [Comité Asesor sobre Prácticas de Inmunización de los CDC]and all of these government groups that make those recommendations really do an excellent job of evaluating the safety and efficacy and reviewing all the manufacturing data on these vaccines, and it’s a very rigorous and comprehensive review,” Rao said. “I think The fact that the agency took a little longer to license these vaccines in these younger children is really telling, because they just had to be absolutely sure as this is a very vulnerable group.”
Parent questions welcome
While Nina Alfieri, MD, a pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, has seen a lot of interest in COVID-19 vaccines for younger children, she knows parents will want to know about the safety of vaccines. vaccines.
This year, Lurie surveyed 5,000 parents in Chicago to find out where they stood on the Covid-19 vaccine. Side effects were among her main concerns.
“It makes sense. You want to make sure what you’re doing for your kids is safe,” Alfieri said.
Alfieri said she hopes caregivers will be sure to ask their pediatrician questions to ease any concerns.
“I really love it when families come to me and tell me they’re a little unsure, because it gives us a chance to sit face-to-face, in a safe environment, and talk through their concerns,” she said.
“There’s going to be a lot of conversation in the next few months, and I think all of us pediatricians are prepared for it, and we’re welcoming this type of conversation, because overall, this is a really exciting time for us. Because finally, this vulnerable and very young age group that has been left out of one of the best protection measures will now be eligible to be protected.”