KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 has been available for several weeks, so now parents and doctors can talk about what they are seeing firsthand when it comes to side effects.
Dr. Joe Childs, the Chief Medical Officer of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, said the younger the person, the fewer side effects they are hearing about.
“I think all of us (adults) that got vaccinated had some experience with sore arms, maybe a little headache, maybe a little low-grade temperature, maybe a little loss of energy for a while. But, kids seem to tolerate it better than adults. Maybe just some injection pain in the arm where they get the shot, but not much more that we’re hearing about,” Childs said.
According to the CDC, possible side effects after the COVID-19 vaccine can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site; tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever or nausea.
The CDC said myocarditis, a rare side effect of the vaccine, had not been reported in the clinical trials for children between 5-11 years old, but cases have been reported especially in male adolescents and young adults. At ETCH, no cases have been reported in children 5-11 years old according to Childs.
Andrea Schneibel’s 7-year-old daughter is fully vaccinated. She said her daughter was perfectly OK after getting the shots.
“She had both shots. She was really brave and she experienced exactly zero side effects,” Schneibel said.
Both of Jennifer Brigati’s kids got their shots as well. One is 13, the other is 10. The 13-year-old had the adult version of the shot and had some side effects.
“The first shot, he just had a sore arm, but with the second shot, he got what many adults experience, which was a short fever. I mean, he really just felt bad for maybe four hours the day after he got the shot, and then he was back up to his normal self,” Brigati said.
Her 10-year-old, who had the child dosage, had no issues with the vaccine.
“My 10-year-old didn’t have anything at all with either shot. So, he had no soreness, no feeling bad at all. He seemed to get by with no symptoms whatsoever,” Brigati said.
Ashleigh Stocking said her 6-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son had almost no side effects. Neither had issues after the first dose, not even a sore arm. After the second dose, the 6-year-old had a sore arm for a day.
Stocking said her 16-year-old also got vaccinated, of course with the adult dosage, and slept for most of 36 hours following her first shot and had a slight headache and soreness at the injection site after the second shot.
Missy May’s oldest child, 15 years old, had a fever and a headache for about a week after the first adult dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine, and no side effects after the second shot.
May said her 11-year-old ran a slight fever for a day and soreness at the injection site after his first shot of the child dosage, but just a sore arm after the second shot.
Dr. Childs said it is not recommended to give a child a pain reliever before getting the shot. He said they might not even need one, but if they feel pain after, then it’s OK to give them a pain reliever.
Brigati and Schneibel said they never had to have a conversation with their kids about getting the vaccine. They were all excited and ready. Both parents have a science background. Brigati has a background in microbiology and immunology and helped with some of the research in local COVID-19 trials. Schneibel is a science writer.
Both said they kept their kids informed throughout the pandemic, so by the time the vaccine was ready for their ages, they couldn’t wait any longer.
“They were enthusiastic about getting the vaccine, there really wasn’t much of a conversation to be had. They knew that they wanted it and so as soon as it was available we went and got it,” Brigati said.
“She was actually really excited and I think she understands, even though she’s just 7 and in first grade, that by doing this she’s helping herself stay safe and she’s helping her class stay safe,” Schneibel said.
Fortunately neither of their children had COVID-19 before getting vaccinated. For kids who did catch the virus during the surge of cases in the fall, Childs said they might not need to get vaccinated.
He said right now, there isn’t a lot of data about how long natural immunity lasts in children.
“If it’s been recent for your child, I think you might want to sit tight. Wait and see what else comes out that we’ve learned from those kids that have had COVID and how susceptible they are to getting a re-infection later,” Childs said.
However, Childs said the CDC said it’s OK for children to receive the vaccine, even if they still have antibodies in their system.
“The CDC tells us that it is, and they think that immunity can last even longer if you’ve had it and then you get at least one dose of the vaccine,” Childs said.
He said a parent should consult with their child’s pediatrician if they have any questions or concerns. Childs also mentioned the vaccine, adult dosage or child dosage, can be found just about anywhere.