What side effects are children experiencing from the vaccine?
The side effects of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in 5- to 15-year-olds are no worse than those of adults. Reactions include soreness in the arm where you got your shot, fatigue, muscle pain, and sometimes a fever. They generally resolve after a day. This indicates the immune system is responding to the vaccine. It is a small price for going back to hanging out with friends without fear of bringing a deadly virus home.
How can parents talk to children about the vaccine and its side effects?
Be honest with your children. Explain to them that while the shot may pinch or sting for a brief moment, it won’t hurt for long, and it helps protect them from getting sick. Remind them that they may feel some mild symptoms for a short time after, but those will go away too, and it’s a sign that their immune system is working. Pain relievers like Tylenol or ibuprofen can be used if needed to help them through it. Help them to see that vaccines are a good thing and they keep us safe.
Could the vaccine cause future infertility in children?
This is a false claim, as there is no data that shows the COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility, or any biological reason why we would suspect that it would. Moreover, the mRNA vaccines are short-lived in your body and do not integrate with your DNA.
Is it safe for children to continue going to school?
We know so much more about how to keep our children safe, and we also learned how devastating it is to keep children out of school, so I think we should use all the tools we have to try to keep kids in school. That means vaccinating all kids who are eligible, testing for COVID-19, wearing masks, and practicing good hygiene, including regular hand-washing and social distancing.
What would you say to parents who are still anxious about their kids receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?
I would tell them that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks of a COVID-19 infection. As pediatricians, we have cared for children who required lifesaving measures due to the infection, and some who didn’t make it. We have witnessed the rise of a new postinfectious inflammatory disease, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which primarily affects children and can result in long-term cardiovascular disease and even death.
Those who did not become sick still stand to be its most impacted long-term victims. They lost family members to COVID, they lost touch with their friends, they only saw teachers on screens, and their anxiety and depression grew to epidemic levels. We now have the opportunity to give them their lives back through the gift of vaccine immunity.