HOUSTON – The COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available for all children but it’s still top of mind for many parents.
Dr. Julie Boom from Texas Children’s Hospital is the co-chair of the Texas Children’s Vaccine Task Force. Boom took part in our Ask 2 Town Hall focused on the COVID-19 vaccine, where we brought viewer questions to community experts for answers.
1. What can you tell us about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for children?
Boom said we’re waiting on the results of those clinical trials to learn more about safety and effectiveness for children, but we already have a good idea from the adult trials.
“We do know from the adult studies that these vaccines are very safe and effective,” Boom explained. “Regarding the effectiveness, so far there are about 95% effective, which means that they give excellent immunity to about 19 out of 20 people who take them, and they’ve also been very safe, even though you may have some soreness at the site where you receive the vaccine or maybe some fatigue. These are actually good signs that show that your immune system is really rising to the occasion, and it will be ready when the real disease arrives.”
2. Do we know when the vaccine may be available for all kids?
Boom explained that right now the vaccine is available for teens 16 and up with previous health conditions. She said Texas Children’s is contacting patients who fit in this category to set up appointments for the vaccine.
3. What do you want people to know about kids and the COVID-19 vaccine?
“If your child has the opportunity to receive one of these vaccines, whether it’s now or in the future, please take advantage of that opportunity. It is so important to develop immunity against this very severe illness, and we want every child to have that, so take that opportunity as soon as it comes,” Boom said.
Here are a few other common questions and answers from Texas Children’s Hospital.
4. Can my child’s siblings also receive the vaccine at Texas Children’s? (Especially considering if my child is getting the vaccine right now they are in a high-risk category.)
Currently, the vaccine can only be administered to patients who meet the state’s criteria. This is also true for adults. Parents of special needs kids do not qualify for vaccination just yet.
5. Should my child get the vaccine if they have already had COVID-19?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages vaccination regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
6. Can COVID-19 make my child sick with the coronavirus?
No. The vaccine only contains genetic instructions to make a protein of the virus. It does not contain a whole virus that can replicate inside of your body. So, the vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
7. How long will the vaccines work in kids?
Texas Children’s says they don’t know yet. As clinical trials progress, we’ll know more about how long immunity lasts and if booster doses will be necessary. Please remain vigilant to the practices which have proven successful throughout the pandemic: wear a mask in all settings, wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and avoid large social gatherings.
Community experts answered dozens of other questions in our Ask 2 Town Hall. Click here for the top 13 vaccine questions asked along with answers.