By Dr. Agustina Boehringer:
As most people know, the FDA and CDC recently endorsed a pediatric version of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. This comes after reviewing copious data regarding safety and efficacy. The vaccine in its ‘adult’ dose has been administered to millions and millions of people in the past year, proving a remarkable safety profile as well as proving ongoing efficacy against serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
Although children, generally speaking, are comparatively less likely to die of COVID than adults, they are still affected. First of all, let’s acknowledge that any death of a child is a tragedy, but even more so when it is a preventable death. We also know that death is not the only undesirable outcome of COVID-19 infection. Children can develop “long hauler” COVID symptoms that can impact their life very negatively, such as breathing issues that may restrict them from sports and other activities, chronic fatigue that may sap them of energy to enjoy childhood pastimes, etc.
Additionally, even when asymptomatic, children are an important factor for the transmission of the virus. This in turn affects the household, the extended family, and the community overall as they may pose a risk to others who are immunocompromised, elderly, or have other risk factors for severe COVID and who may not be able to get vaccinated or who may be vaccinated but, due to those medical issues, may not have mounted sufficient protective immunity.
The bottom line is that, regardless of age group, the more people in a community that are vaccinated, the less extensive the effect of viral transmission becomes. Yes, it is possible to contract the virus even when vaccinated, but breakthrough infections remain uncommon even with the advent of the infamous, very contagious Delta variant. Likewise, vaccinated people continue to, generally speaking, avoid ICU hospitalization, intubation, and death even with Delta.
Heart to Heart International is excited to offer pediatric vaccinations. “We are seeing a huge surge in requests for the pediatric vaccine,” said Stacy Tobin, Community Health Worker, Heart to Heart International. “It is reminiscent of the urgency we saw when the vaccines were first approved for adults. We had an event at a Kansas school the day the CDC approved the pediatric Pfizer and had several families come in hoping to get their kids vaccinated. One little girl said “I can’t wait to get my shot.” It’s a wonderful feeling to see families excited to protect their families at every age.”
Find a time to sign up to receive a pediatric dose, 1st adult dose, 2nd adult dose, or booster dose here.