Does Your Young Child Need the COVID-19 Vaccination?
The approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children between 6 months and 5 years old has no doubt started many discussions among parents about whether or not their children should get it.
Parents can make appointments for their children to receive the shot via vaccines.nh.gov or vaccines.gov. More than 200 providers in the state are providing COVID-19 vaccine in this age group, according to New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan recommended the vaccination for the last age group to be eligible, and said the first step is to consult with your primary caregiver.
“These vaccines are safe and effective, and we recommend that everybody 6 months of age and older get vaccinated. Parents and caregivers should start by contacting their primary care providers to ask about vaccine availability," Chan said in a statement.
The state has ordered 22,700 doses, with 10,000 already delivered. The state's COVID-19 dashboard does not yet include the youngest age group for how many doses have been administered.
There are two vaccines available for children:
- The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months through 5 years is given as a 2-dose primary series with a third dose available for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
- The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years of age is given as a 3-dose primary series, regardless of a person’s immunocompromised status.
- It is likely that both primary series will require boosters in the future.
What About Your Kids?
Dr. Brendan Murphy, family medical physician for Wentworth Health Partners, said most of his patients are excited and are asking when and where they can get the vaccination for their children.
"For the majority of children, the benefits of the vaccine are going to far outweigh the potential risks," Murphy told Seacoast Current. "When we're making any kind of decision, whether it's a medication or a vaccination, we want to make the decision to go towards whatever is the lower risk."
The side effects in children are mild and include sore arms, mild fevers, diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue.
Studies have shown that up to 75% of children have likely been infected with COVID-19 over the past few years, according to Murphy. Even if your child has already had COVID-19, Murphy recommends still getting the shot.
"We know for a fact that one infection does not inter lifetime immunity by any means. We've already seen plenty of children who had had COVID-19 twice in the past two years," Murphy said.
Murphy said the best-protected children and adults are those who have been infected and also vaccinated.
He said COVID-19 has been the fifth largest cause of death in children during the pandemic years.
"Every parent needs to take that as a consideration when they're thinking about the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a leading cause of death among children," Murphy said.
COVID-19 will not be going away anytime soon, and will be something that will require vaccines and boosters.
"One thing we have learned during this pandemic and this virus is that it is very difficult for us to predict. We need to continue to approach it with caution, we should all continue to consider getting vaccinated, to get booster doses when appropriate," Murphy said.