Hesitant about getting your kid a COVID shot due to side effects? This doctor says don’t worry

Some parents have expressed hesitation about getting their children vaccinated against the coronavirus, and after experiencing symptoms themselves, they’re nervous how their child might react.

But a doctor, who oversaw one of the trials for Pfizer, said there’s no need to worry.

“I’ve seen these kids get two doses of the vaccine and do very well,” said Dr. Nehali Patel, who led Pfizer’s pediatric trial at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis. “They go to school, they play sports. They’re not missing school after the vaccine.”

What side effects she saw were minimal and often not necessarily a result of the vaccine itself.

“In our study, we saw side effects even in the placebo arms,” she said. “Most of the reactions were local, meaning injection pain or redness at the site of injection, and even the placebo participants had the same reaction.”

In other words, soreness around the arm was more likely a result of the needle itself and not the actual dose.

“If a parent has gotten the vaccine and they had to take a day off or something because of fever and chills and systemic side effects,” explained Dr. Patel, “we did not see the same level of systemic side effects in children.”

Pfizer tested three doses of varying sizes on children between ages 5 and 11, and evaluated them before submitting the smallest dose to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization.

“The dose level they chose, which is 10 micrograms, a third of the adult dose, had the least side effects and the same immune response as the 30 (micrograms) for adults,” said Dr. Patel.

She said the objective data about the trials is publicly available for parents to study if they’re still worried.

“It’s very compelling for kids to get the vaccine and be protected against COVID,” she added.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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