COVID 19 vaccine update~
Your periodic newsletter from 411 Pediatrics and Dr Ari Brown
Breaking news on COVID-19 vaccine: FDA and ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) approve Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in kids ages 12-15! Finally, we have FDA’s blessing to start protecting our tweens and teens against COVID-19! YES, we absolutely support getting our patients in this age group vaccinated. Here is what you need to know:
The study involved over 2200 participants. Study results showed that kids in this age group mounted an excellent immune response to the vaccine–in fact it was 100% effective in the study as the only kids who got sick with COVID-19 infection were the ones who were in the placebo (control) group. And, side effects were similar to the ones adults complain about–bodyaches, fever, and a sore arm.
Please get your child vaccinated ASAP!!! Pediatricians fully support vaccinating our patients with the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly before they head off to summer camps and other fun activities this summer–and definitely prior to school starting up in the fall. It is the quickest and most effective way to get our patients back to leading normal lives. Safety concerns and outright vaccine myths (that make absolutely no scientific sense) are literally going viral on the internet—we will tackle those further down in this newsletter so read on.
Eventually, yes! Many of the large vaccination centers will be offering Pfizer to kids age 12 and up, so please figure out where to go to get it. Austin Regional Clinic is offering vaccines to non-ARC patients and so is Southwest Pediatrics. Pediatricians are stepping up to offer Pfizer vaccines in their offices, but know that there are some practical logistical hurdles which makes it more challenging than other vaccines we routinely use in our practice. Large minimum orders (1000+ doses), certified data loggers and temperature sensors (on back order since everyone needs them–remember the N95 mask crisis?!), and limited vaccine lifespan in the refrigerator and freezer are the current headaches we are personally experiencing! Bottom line: we will keep you posted when our practice gets a vaccine shipment but do not wait for us to get it for your child to get protected.
The Pfizer vaccine is 2 doses, given at least 21 days apart which is the same as for adults. Note: ACIP and the American Academy of Pediatrics concur that the COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccinations such as tetanus, meningitis, and HPV vaccines.
Short answer: NO! We have seen this myth circulating around the internet that really has no medical basis to have started this concern. The only thing we can guess is that scientists are studying the impact of the actual COVID-19 infection and reproduction. But the vaccine does not cause infection and the antibodies produced do not mount a reaction to the ovarian tissue, eggs, or the placenta.
Both national obstetrician/gynecologist (ACOG) and fertility/reproductive endocrinologist medical organizations (ASRM) have come out with strong statements advocating for vaccinating women of reproductive age and have tried to address this misinformation.
As doctors with great experience in both infectious diseases and vaccine science, we are much more concerned about the disease mechanics (unpredictable as we have learned) than the vaccine mechanics (predictable as the methodology of the vaccine science is not new even though the vaccine itself is).
There are several considerations here, the first of which is the obvious–COVID 19 is a very serious infection that has taken the lives of so many, but also resulted in serious long term health consequences for both adults and children. As a pediatrician who always feels that children do not get a voice at the table–please know that the trope that ‘kids don’t get as sick’ is neglecting the 3.7 million kids have gotten sick with this virus, 14,000 kids who have been hospitalized for it, and 279 kids who died. So, yes, pediatricians have been pleading from the start to get protection for kids and not just wait until everyone else is protected. Our kids deserve to be protected as much as any other population group who has been anxiously awaiting to return to normal life–and we have had so many patients whose lives have been impacted socially and emotionally due to disruption of this pandemic. That said, now let’s look at the science.
Pfizer vaccine has been studied for over a year now and since release in December 2020, we have several hundred million people vaccinated without significant untoward side effects. Tweens and teens from 12-15 years of age, physiologically, are similar to 16 year olds who have been in the queue for much longer, allowing this age group to be an easy decision to utilize ‘immunobridging’ data with a smaller number of study participants. And those kids did well with both immune response and safety. And, what we have learned about COVID-19 virus is that the closer a ‘child’ is to being an adult, the more the virus acts like it does in adults. So, are largest population of infected kids have been in middle and high schools. And they can and do spread the virus to more vulnerable adults.
The studies in younger children ages 2-11 will be longer in duration and studies in the 6 months to age 2 group will be the longest. And that makes sense from a science-standpoint. We anticipate the vaccine(s) will be approved for use in children ages 2 and up in September 2021.
Bottom line: PLEASE get your 12+ kids vaccinated pronto! It is what we have all been waiting for (including your child–even the ones who hate getting shots). Let’s protect our kids and allow them to return to their lives. If you have questions or concerns about this vaccine, just ask us!
Dr Ari Brown and 411 Pediatrics