University health doctor sorts out myths and concerns about COVID-19 vaccines for children

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SAN ANTONIO – With the Food and Drug Administration allowing a COVID-19 booster shot for healthy children ages 5 to 11, some parents may have questions or concerns about the vaccine.

Pediatric University Health Specialist Dr. Mandie Svatek answered some frequently asked questions as COVID cases in the United States and here in Bexar County begin to rise again.

I thought kids couldn’t get COVID-19, so why should they get vaccinated?

Svateck: “So we find that anyone can get COVID. The most important thing is that we have seen COVID affect adults much more aggressively. But still, COVID can give an array of symptoms in children. Some may be asymptomatic and some may have severe symptoms and end up hospitalized and some may die from COVID. And so when you see that spectrum, we understand that some kids who test positive for COVID may not have symptoms, while others may.

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If my child has already had COVID-19, does he still need to be vaccinated?

Svateck: “It is extremely important to always have your child vaccinated. Vaccines have been proven long-term to show a continuous immune response. If you actually get a disease process, that immune response in other diseases has been diminished, and they find that’s very similar with COVID. It is therefore important that you receive a vaccine to give you a much more long-term response and defense against future COVID disease.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect my child against future variants?

Svateck: “We hope the vaccine will continue to protect against future variants. But as things change, that’s where they continue to look at the science and make sure these vaccines continue to be effective. So currently, the COVID vaccine is still showing that compared to the flu vaccine, it is more effective. As we move forward, we need to continue to understand this and continue to consider additional approval, perhaps for further changes in these vaccines, to still create this appropriate immune response.

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What kind of side effects could my child have from the COVID-19 vaccine and how should we treat them?

Svateck: “So what they’ve often seen in studies is very similar side effects to adults after getting the vaccine, but sometimes less. Pain in the arm is one of the most common outcomes of receiving the COVID vaccine. You may also develop fever, fatigue. These are mainly the common symptoms. Obviously if they have a fever you can treat them with Tylenol and you can just watch them. And we have a safe vaccine reporting system if they have other side effects, that way those can be reported and recorded so the CDC and the FDA can review them.

Why is it important for children to receive their COVID-19 reminder?

Svateck: “So when you have received two doses of the vaccine, your immune response may sometimes decrease. And as new variants arrive, you always want to protect your body. It is therefore important that this booster dose has been shown to be effective in preventing deaths and hospitalizations. And so you want to keep initiating that appropriate immune response, so that you get that appropriate response the next time another variant kicks in.”

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Could vaccinating my child before he reaches puberty affect his future development or fertility?

Svateck: “Immunizing your child has not been shown to affect fertility or future development. And it is important to understand that this vaccine does not affect an individual’s DNA. It does not enter the nucleus of any cell. It’s an RNA vaccine that helps the body produce a defense against this spike protein on COVID.

Can my child receive other vaccines when receiving their COVID-19 vaccine?

Svateck: “The CDC says it’s okay to give this COVID vaccine along with other vaccines. You want to make sure you’re on the right schedule to protect your child from the right diseases. And so there was no conflict with receiving the COVID vaccine in addition to other vaccines.

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