COLUMBUS, Ohio — Right now, doses of two types of COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 5 are being delivered to pediatrician offices and pharmacies across the state. The deliveries come just days after the FDA approved both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for young children.
Now that shots will go out as soon as Tuesday in Columbus, 10TV is getting the answers to the questions parents are asking.
We asked Dr. Chris Peltier, a pediatrician and president-elect of the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Michael Storey, PharmD, MS at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Question: What if my child is about to turn five?
Dr. Peltier: "Don't wait until your child turns five or six to get a COVID vaccine, get it as soon as you can. And then once they hit that next age milestone, either five or six, they would then fall into the recommendations for that age group."
Question: What are the differences between the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines?
Dr. Peltier: "Moderna is currently a two-dose series for kids, six months through age six. Pfizer is a three-dose series for kids, six months to five years. And of course, currently kids five years and above can also get the Pfizer vaccine."
Storey: "Moderna is two doses of the vaccine spread approximately four weeks apart….For the Pfizer vaccine, it's three doses, the first two or three weeks apart, and then the gap between the second and the third vaccine is eight weeks."
Question: What are the common side effects?
Dr. Peltier: "Soreness at the site of the injection, and maybe a little bit of redness, and then maybe a little bit of fever. What was interesting in the initial Pfizer trials, some of which were done here in Cincinnati at Cincinnati Children's, when they use the higher dose that they ended up submitting to the FDA, some of those kids that received the vaccine had pretty high fevers. And so that was one of the reasons that went into Pfizer deciding to do an extra or doing a lower dose and doing three doses to try to decrease the amount of side effects. They did not see that as much in the Moderna trials. Again, it was pretty standard.”
Question: How soon could the vaccines be administered?
Storey: "Vaccines are starting to roll into the hospital and are in our clinics [Monday]. We anticipate starting to vaccinate [Tuesday] morning. We have clinics open and scheduling is available to the public throughout this week, and will continue as driven by demand for vaccines."
Dr. Peltier: “We probably anticipate giving it by Wednesday no later than Thursday.”
Question: If a child in this age group had COVID-19 recently, do they need to wait before getting the vaccine? And if so, how long?"
Dr. Peltier: "Studies haven't quite defined what the best timing is. The other problem is, is that is as we all know, the virus keeps changing. So, you know, if you've had COVID recently, you know, several weeks or months later there could be new variants that come along. So you know in general I typically have been recommending waiting about three months."
Question: If a child had a mild COVID-19 infection and recovered – do they still need to get vaccinated?
Dr. Peltier: "When you have natural COVID infection, your antibodies that you're producing are going to be against that specific variant of the virus that you are infected with, as opposed to the vaccine, which provides a little bit of a broader spectrum of immune response. So bottom line is yes, I would recommend that you get it."
Question: What if a child is due for other immunizations – will a COVID-19 vaccine interfere?
Storey: "Children should be able to get the COVID 19 vaccine alongside other childhood vaccines. For years, we've given lots of vaccines concurrent with one another and we've seen no issues with that. And we've been doing that now for several months with the COVID-19 vaccine and older patients and not seen any issues in terms of efficacy or safety and so we believe that you can get that vaccine alongside your other pediatric vaccines."
Dr. Peltier: “Originally, when the COVID vaccine was first approved for kids under 18, there was a two-week window where you were not recommended to give any vaccines either two weeks before or two weeks after within a short period of time, that went away. And so we routinely give COVID vaccines. So for instance, if I'm seeing a 5 year old this summer that's going off to kindergarten, I will give them their DTP and polio shot their MMR varicella shot, and their COVID vaccine all at the same time. And it really doesn't increase the risk of side effects or decrease the efficacy or how any of those vaccines work so you can get your COVID vaccine with your other routine childhood immunizations."
Nationwide Children’s Hospital ordered both brands of COVID vaccines for this age group.
Dr. Peltier said his practice -- for now -- only ordered the Pfizer vaccine from the Ohio Department of Health. The reason for that is Pfizer has been the only option for younger age groups so it's what they are familiar with. The Moderna vaccine has not been given emergency use authorization for the six through 17 age group yet. On Thursday, the CDC's advisory committee will meet to discuss that.