Side effects of children’s COVID-19 vaccine a top concern for parents

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While many parents walked into pediatrician offices on the first day vaccines were available for children as young as five, others are holding off.

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll found parents were almost evenly split on where they stood on vaccines for children five to 11.

More than 70 percent of parents reported they were worried about unknown long-term side effects. Almost 80 percent said they were worried about severe side effects.

Parents should be more concerned with the effects of a COVID-19 infection. More than 140,000 children lost a parent over the course of the pandemic, according to the CDC. Doctors at UNC Health hope these new vaccines for children can keep more families together.

“This is a momentous week in the pandemic for younger children and potentially a real turning point,” said Dr. Peyton Thompson, associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at UNC Health.

Thompson said parents should get their children vaccinated as soon as possible but be careful with the timing.

“You don’t want to schedule the vaccination dose, the day before a big test or another big event,” said Thompson.

That’s because of side effects.

Thompson doesn’t recommend pre-medicating your child for them. However, you may want to have some kids Tylenol on hand after vaccination.

“The side effects are very similar to those that we see in adults and older children, ” said Thompson.

Side effects largely go away within a day or a two. In trials, injection site pain, fatigue and headaches were the most reported side effects by children.

Below are the side effects for children ages five to 11 after each dose:

SYMPTOMDOSE 1DOSE 2
Pain at the injection site74.1%71%
Redness at the injection site14.7%18.5%
Swelling at the injection site10.5%15.3%
Fever5%13%
Fatigue33.6%39.4%
Headache22.428%
Chills4.6%9.8%
Vomiting2.2%1.9%
Diarrhea5.9%5.3%
New or worsened muscle pain9.1%11.7%
New or worsened joint pain3.3%5.2%

“COVID vaccines are similar to the vaccines that we give to children throughout infancy and childhood, and those vaccines don’t have long term effects,” said Thompson.

For unvaccinated children who become infected with COVID-19, Infectious disease expert Dr. David Wohl said ‘long COVID’ is possible.

“We do know that double-digit percent of young kids who get COVID have some lingering symptoms,” said Wohl.

A study published in the the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal found “long COVID” can last up to three months in children. Symptoms include stomach pain, trouble concentrating, sleep issues and headaches.

“That’s the kind of thing we’re seeing with these kids and adults, but you would prevent that if you’re vaccinated,” Wohl said.

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With the holiday travel season is on its way. Wohl said families should schedule their final vaccine appointments at least two weeks before they travel to ensure.

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