COVID-19 Vaccines for Young Children: A primary care provider shares her perspective

Dr. Carolyn Emerick provides primary care services for patients of all ages at our Tanasbourne Clinic. She discusses the importance of vaccinating children against COVID-19 and shares why she decided to enroll all three of her young children in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.

Why vaccinate?

Many wonder why children need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. While it is true that the rate of severe disease from COVID-19 is low in children, deaths from COVID-19 are higher than from any other vaccine-preventable disease among children.

Pediatric hospitalization was also highest among those under 5 compared to other pediatric groups, and 1 in 4 hospitalized children under 5 ended up in the ICU. Vaccines also help to reduce the chances of developing Long COVID-19 (even in those who initially had a mild illness) by 15-50%.

A Safe and Effective Vaccine

We have seen in clinical trials that the pediatric COVID-19 vaccines have minimal side effects, and the side effects which were seen were similar to those with any vaccine (irritability, drowsiness, pain at the injection site, and fever).

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are effective at reducing the risk of children getting COVID-19.

The Moderna vaccine is a 2 shot series (given 4-8 weeks apart) and is 37-51% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection. Moderna is currently working on an Omicron specific booster for all age groups, which will likely be available in the fall. Pfizer is a 3 shot series (2nd dose given 3 weeks after the first dose, and the 3rd dose given 8 weeks after the 2nd dose). For those that get COVID-19 after having been vaccinated, they typically have more mild symptoms and are not sick for as long as those who are not vaccinated. 

My Family’s Clinical Trial Experience

I was incredibly fortunate to have been able to enroll my 3 children in clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines. My then 5 year old was enrolled in the Pfizer trial, and my then 3 year old and 7 month old were enrolled in the Moderna trial.

After spending countless hours reading everything I could get my hands on about mRNA vaccines (which have actually been in the works since the early 1990s), I felt confident that the long-term risks of COVID-19 were much scarier than any of the observed risks with any of mRNA vaccines which were being developed for COVID-19.

I also have friends and family members who are at risk for severe disease or death from COVID-19, and wanted to do everything I could to protect them from getting COVID-19 from myself or my children.

My children all handled the vaccinations well, with only mild side effects, much like they have had with any of their other routine vaccines. We are so thankful to be fully vaccinated!

I believe that if we are ever going to “get past” COVID, we need to have as many people as possible protected against severe disease and disability from COVID-19.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which are currently approved for children 6 months of age and older are safe and effective at doing just that!

Vaccines for children under 5 are available at many of our clinic locations. Visit our COVID-19 resources page to learn more.