When and Where will my Pre-Teens be Able to get Their Covid Vaccine?
Earlier this week, the FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 year olds and today the CDC met and now formally recommends that the vaccine be given to children down to 12 years old, which makes 17 million more American children eligible for the vaccine. Just as in other age groups, the Pfizer vaccine has an emergency use authorization and is not yet FDA approved. This is still great news though, especially as 20% of the new cases in the US are occurring in children under 18 years old. This is mostly due to the fact that so many adults are now vaccinated, but loosened restrictions certainly play a role as well.
Fortunately, the vaccine has so far been shown to be 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in this age group- there were NO cases in the 1,100 children who received the vaccine, while 16 cases occurred in the placebo group. The shot will be administered on the same schedule, with two doses spaced 3 weeks apart. The side effects that have been seen are very similar to the slightly older age group, especially after the second dose. Temporary pain at the injection site is the most common side effect, followed by tiredness or headaches and about half experienced chills and muscle pain. These side effects indicate that the vaccine is eliciting an immune response, but we know that the vaccine is effective even if you do not experience side effects afterwards.
If you have a child in this age group (or older) and you are wondering where to get them vaccinated, you can use https://myturn.ca.gov/ to find vaccination appointments. You can also schedule through Stanford directly using their website or by calling (844) 365-0724. In California, parental consent is required for vaccinations of minors. Some sites may require that the parent is present at the appointment, while others may allow a signed attestation or consent by phone or video at the time of the visit, so make sure to follow the instructions given during registration.
What if your child is under 12? The wait to vaccinate younger children will hopefully not be too long. Pfizer expects to seek emergency authorization in September to administer its vaccine to children as young as 2. Pfizer plans to share results of studies in children between 6 months and 2 years of age by the end of the year. Moderna’s clinical trial results for its vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds are expected in the next few weeks, and results from a trial of its vaccine in children 6 months to 12 years old are expected in the second half of this year.
There truly is light at the end of the tunnel, but please continue to be careful and keep those masks on when in doubt (and especially if you have unvaccinated children who still have to wear masks, it’s best to model good mask wearing habits.)
Jackie Phillips, MD, May 12, 2021