Doctor answers questions on COVID-19 vaccines for younger kids

As COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been authorized for children ages 6 months and older, a doctor from Children’s National Hospital has answers to common questions.

“The most common question I get,” said Dr. Cara Biddle, interim division chief of general pediatrics and community health at Children’s National, “is, ‘Should we give it to our children now, or should I wait until just before school?’”

Her answer is, don’t wait.

“The most important thing I want people to know is that it does take multiple doses until their child is fully protected,” she said.

The Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 6 months is a three-dose series. Dose one is followed by dose two, three weeks later, and a third dose eight weeks later.

“So that’s gonna take most of the summer for their child to be fully vaccinated,” Biddle said. “With Moderna, it’s four weeks between doses, but we still want to get started as soon as we can.”

What if a kid will transition across age groups during their shot regimen?

Biddle advised following the guidance from the manufacturers.

“In general, we give the dose that’s recommended to the child at the age that they are at the time that they received the vaccine. But sometimes parents want their kids to have the same dose across the series, and the manufacturers have given us specific guidance when it’s OK to do that,” Biddle said.

“All those pieces can be sorted out in a way that I’m sure families will feel comfortable with and their [health care] provider feels good about as well,” she said.

If a child has recently had COVID-19, should they wait to be vaccinated?

Biddle said children that are most protected are those who have both had COVID and have been vaccinated.

“At this point in the pandemic, there’s no recommendation to wait any time after having COVID beyond your usual quarantine period. So once that isolation or quarantine period is over, it’s fine to move forward with getting the vaccine,” Biddle said.

What about getting the COVID-19 vaccine along with routine immunizations?

“We can do all of that together,” Biddle said – noting that both the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support that.

“If parents prefer to do them separately, we’re happy to work with them on a different schedule as well, but I certainly encourage folks to go ahead and do it all,” she said.

Both vaccines have been shown to be equally safe and effective, Biddle said.

While most young children don’t get severely ill from COVID-19, Biddle notes some do develop long COVID.

“And certainly, grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles are wanting to see these young kids and they absolutely can be the one who brings it home from daycare or from school,” Biddle said. “So this is a really important way that everyone can protect all the members of their close family and friends.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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