UVA Health doctors explain the COVID-19 vaccine for children

Published: Nov. 6, 2021 at 7:16 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Two doctors from the University of Virginia are discussing the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11.

“The COVID vaccine is probably the most well-studied vaccines at this point in history,” UVA Health’s, Dr. Debbie Ann Shirley said.

Shirley says there have been hundreds of millions of doses already administered.

“There have been clinical trials done in adults, young adults, adolescents, and now the 5 to eleven age group,” Shirley said. “Also, very robust surveillance systems that help identify really rare side effects quickly.”

She says the steps taken were to ensure the shot’s safety.

“It helps to provide lots of reassurance that these vaccines are safe and not rushed too quickly for use,” Shirley said.

The first steps in approving the vaccine began in the early stage of the pandemic.

“Following the adolescent trials, in March, Pfizer began in kids under the age of 12,” Shirley said.

About 4,600 children were enrolled in the pediatric trials.

“The vaccine was shown to be well tolerated in this age group. They tested 3 different doses. They picked the low dose, or 10 microgram dose, as the best tolerated and best option to go forward with,” Shirley said.

Shirley says a sore arm and fever are common side effects after getting the shot, but they subside in about one day.

“In using that low dose vaccine, they still made really high levels of antibody,” Shirley said.

Dr. Shirley and Dr. Costi Sifri from UVA Health say time is of the essence in vaccinating your children.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, kids accounted for less than 3% of weekly cases,” Shirley said.

When the delta variant surged, that number changed. Now, children account for about a quarter of new weekly cases.

“It’s a top 10 leading cause of death, in children of this age group,” Dr. Sifri said.

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