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Pediatricians are gearing up to talk with parents about the safety, efficacy, and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines in kids. Westend61 / Getty Images
  • Following the FDA’s emergency use authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines in kids ages 12 to 15, some parents are eager to get their kids vaccinated.
  • However, others are hesitant about the shots. Pediatricians across the country are already having conversations with patients and their parents about the safety, efficacy, and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines in children.
  • We talked to these physicians about how they approach nervous parents.

While some parents are eager to get their children vaccinated, others are feeling nervous. COVID-19 tends to be milder in children, so some parents may wonder: Is it worth it?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in kids between the ages of 12 and 15.

The FDA called the authorization a significant step in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

A panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15.

Across the country, many pediatricians are gearing up to talk with parents about the safety, efficacy, and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines in kids. After all, as more people get vaccinated, the sooner we’ll reach herd immunity, get a handle on COVID-19, and regain some normalcy in our lives.

Here’s how pediatricians plan to talk with parents who are hesitant about getting their kids vaccinated.

Dr. Danelle Fisher, a pediatrician and chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, plans to speak to the vaccine safety and efficacy observed not only in clinical trials in children and adults, but across the adult population in the real world.

“I am confident in the vaccine since we have been seeing great results with the adult population, and the studies in children are also showing impressive results,” Fisher said.

Dr. Sunaina Suhag, a board certified pediatrician with Austin Regional Clinic in Texas, hopes to do the same.

“During the Pfizer trial, there were zero cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated kids. That’s outstanding,” Suhag said.

For adults who are worried about the science, Fisher will explain how the vaccines work to build immunity against the coronavirus.

For those who are concerned about the safety of the vaccines, Fisher will walk patients and parents through the clinical trials, explaining how the trials were conducted and how many kids were evaluated.

Some families may worry about the quick nature of the clinical trials.

Suhag points to other vaccine clinical trials, such as the Menactra vaccine. “Just under 900 teens participated in Menactra phase 2 and 3 trials before approval, and over 1,100 teens 12 to 15 participated in Pfizer trials. Over 1 million 16- and 17-year-old children in the U.S. have been vaccinated,” Suhag said.

“We have a tremendous amount of data already because we put all of our efforts into making this a safe and efficient process,” Suhag added.

Dr. Zachary Hoy, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Nashville Pediatric Infectious Disease in Tennessee, is informing patients and their parents about the potential side effects some kids may experience after vaccination.

Kids can experience the same reactions as adults, like chills, fatigue, soreness at the injection site, and lymph node swelling. These reactions typically resolve within 48 to 72 hours.

“Side effects are not usually as feared or worrisome if parents know what to expect and how long to expect them,” Hoy told Healthline.

In general, children are less likely to develop a severe form of COVID-19, compared with adults. But that doesn’t mean kids never develop COVID-19 or become seriously ill from it.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids account for about 14 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Even though it’s less common for young kids to become seriously sick from the virus, kids still have gotten very sick, even hospitalized due to COVID,” said Suhag.

In rare cases, children with COVID-19 can develop a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) about 3 to 4 weeks after infection with the coronavirus.

“These MIS-C cases can cause children to have to be admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) and sometimes have cardiac, kidney, GI, and neurologic issues,” said Hoy.

It’s also unclear what kind of long-term impact COVID-19 might have on kids. Long-haul COVID-19 has been well documented in adults, but emerging reports have shown that kids are being affected by long-haul symptoms as well.

Vaccination helps prevent kids from developing COVID-19 and experiencing rare complications like MIS-C, says Hoy.

Kids with COVID-19 can transmit the coronavirus to other at-risk people in their communities.

“The best way to ensure that your kids don’t get sick or [spread] COVID to others is to get vaccinated,” Suhag said.

Vaccinations are crucial in our effort to reach herd immunity — where a population has enough immunity to stop the spread of an infectious disease — and regain some normalcy.

“Vaccinating children in this age group can help get to the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to get to herd immunity and decrease the ability of the virus to spread easily, especially through schools, churches, youth sports teams, and other areas where children can be around other children or adults that may not be in their own household,” said Hoy.

Following the FDA’s emergency use authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines in kids ages 12 to 15, some parents are eager to get their kids vaccinated, whereas others are hesitant about the shots. Pediatricians across the country are already having conversations with patients and their parents about the safety, efficacy, and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines in children.