With authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines now available in the US, we have real hope for stopping the pandemic. There are currently two FDA-authorized vaccines for COVID-19: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Below, we answer some common questions about these newly developed vaccines, and what they mean for you and your family.
What ages have the COVID-19 vaccines been approved for?
Pfizer’s vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and up. Moderna’s vaccine is currently authorized for ages 18 and up.
Why isn’t a COVID-19 vaccine available to kids now?
Children’s immune systems are different from adults’. Their immune responses even vary greatly depending on age. Scientists will need to repeat research for the COVID-19 vaccines specific to children.
When will there be a COVID-19 vaccine for infants, kids and younger teens?
Hopefully, a full pediatric vaccine will be available by late 2021 or early 2022.
Pfizer and Moderna both have vaccine trials including children as young as age 12 underway. If those trials are successful, the data will then go to FDA review, followed by the time it takes for production and distribution. Young ages are usually tested last.
How do the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work?
mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. Rather than using a weakened or inactivated germ to trigger an immune response in the body, mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a harmless protein—or even just a piece of a protein. Our immune systems recognize that this protein doesn’t belong, and begin building an immune response and producing antibodies. These antibodies protect us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
You can visit CDC’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine webpage to learn more about this process.
What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?
COVID-19 can cause severe medical complications and even death in some individuals. There’s no way of knowing how the virus will affect you. The COVID-19 vaccine offers protection from the illness by creating an antibody response in your body. The vaccines available in the US are highly effective. On the off chance you do still get COVID-19, it will help reduce the severity of your illness and lower the risk of serious complications.
By getting the vaccine, you also help the people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
The vaccines meet rigorous safety criteria and are effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. Take a look at an overview of safety and efficacy data here.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, the mRNA vaccines don’t use the live virus that causes COVID-19.
However, it’s important to remember that it takes several weeks, and 2 separate injections of the vaccine, for the body to build up immunity against COVID. This means it’s possible to become infected with COVID-19 just before or shortly after you receive your vaccination.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
You may feel flu-like symptoms in the first few days after receiving the vaccine. This is normal, and a sign that your body is building protection against COVID.
After getting the vaccine, you may experience:
- Pain and swelling at site of injection
Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for any pain and discomfort.
When will I be able to get the vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine supplies are limited, and each state has its own plan for deciding which groups of people will be vaccinated first. Contact your local health department for the latest information on how and when you can receive a vaccine.
CDC recommends that states allocate initial supplies of the vaccine to healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. Phase 2 should include adults 75 and older, and frontline essential workers. This includes firefighters, police and correction officers, food and agricultural workers, postal workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, and public transit workers. Phase 3 includes people aged 65-74 years and individuals with underlying conditions.
The goal is for everyone to have access to the vaccine as soon as enough supplies are available.
We hope this information gives you some peace of mind in regards to vaccination. The CDC offers more Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination.
For better or worse, face coverings are a part of daily life during the pandemic. Now in the thick of cold and flu season, it’s more important than ever to wear masks when out in public. The CDC recommends that all children over the age of 2 wear a mask in public places where social distancing isn’t possible, and many public places require face coverings for all children over the age of 5. But getting kids to wear masks is no easy task. How do you convince a strong-willed preschooler to put a mask on – and keep it on?
Tips for getting kids to wear masks:Positive Peer Pressure
Most young kids like to emulate their friends, so positive peer pressure is an especially powerful tool for some kids. If you have friends or family with young kids who are particularly mask-savvy, consider setting up a socially-distanced playdate where your child can see other kids in masks. If that’s not possible, you can video chat with friends, or share photos or videos of other children wearing masks. Sometimes this is all it takes to elicit cooperation.
Get Them Involved in Choosing Masks
With so many retailers making masks for kids, it’s easy to find one (or ten!) that match every kid’s personality. Get online and let your child help you browse masks and pick out a few that they love. Treat it like a special treat and maybe they will get excited to wear their snazzy new mask!
Similarly, when it’s time to leave the house, let your child choose which mask they will wear that day. It’s also never a bad idea to bring 1 or 2 extra masks on outings in case one gets dirty or your child decides halfway to the grocery store that they wanted a different pattern.
Try Different Types of Masks
Some people find masks that tie around the head more comfortable, while others prefer the type that loop around the ears. Consider getting multiple types for your child to try on so that they find the one that is most comfortable for them.
Make it into a Craft Project
Many retailers make basic white masks in jersey or woven cotton. Pick up a pack of white masks and fabric pens and let your child create their very own, unique designs! Or pick up fabric dye and try tie dying masks. They will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when they inevitably receive compliments on their stylish face wear.
Note: Please be sure to follow manufacturer instructions when using fabric pens or dye to ensure the dye sets properly. Do not use fabric paint, as this can affect the breathability of the mask.
Practice for Short Times
Even for adults, it can be uncomfortable to wear masks for an extended period of time. So before you take your child out in public in a mask, practice at home. Have them wear their mask for a couple of minutes at a time, and give them a reward (whether it be praise, a sticker, a special food treat, etc.) when they can keep it on for that short period of time.
Next, take them somewhere in public where you know they won’t have to wear it for long, like a quick run into the grocery store for 1-2 items. Make sure to offer a lot of praise, and don’t be surprised if strangers also offer praise – as uncomfortable as masks can be, most adults know it’s especially hard for young kids and will go out of their way to offer support. Once you’ve accomplished a short trip, keep extending the increments until your kid is comfortable with longer outings.
By following these tips, we hope that before long your child will be an expert mask wearer! For more tips on getting kids to wear masks, visit Kidshealth.org.
This year, the safest way to celebrate is to celebrate at home. COVID-19 cases are surging across the country, with hospitalizations and the daily death toll higher than ever before. Our hospital systems are under immense strain and experts predict things will worsen in the winter months. With this in mind, we urge you to rethink your usual holiday celebrations in order to save lives.
This year, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Traveling, and gathering with friends and family who do not live with you, can increase the risk of getting and spreading the virus. So, how can we make the holidays special for our little ones without the merry gathering? We’ve got a few ideas!
Fun Ways to Celebrate At Home During COVID-19
Get festive with outdoor activities such as ice skating, christmas light viewing, or a nice hike. Just remember to keep your distance and wear your mask around others.
Exchange meals, gifts, and treats.
Give and receive your favorite holiday dishes, cookies, and gifts with friends and family via contactless drop-offs and pick-ups. Make your own or support a local small business.
Get creative with cooking and crafts.
Cook up that cozy feeling with homemade hot cocoa and festive cookies. You can bake a pie or build a gingerbread house. Need more ideas? Try making ornaments or holiday cards. Decorating the house together can also be fun.
Settle in for a movie marathon.
Cozy up by the fireplace, or build an epic blanket fort, and stream your favorite holiday flicks.
We hope these tips help you find ways to celebrate at home. Stay safe and healthy! We’re here if your child needs medical care.
For many kids (and adults!), Halloween is a highly anticipated holiday full of friends, frights, and, of course, treats. However, as Halloween approaches this year, many families are reconsidering their annual traditions in the face of a global pandemic. With the safety of gathering for parties or trick or treating in question, we’ve come up with some ideas to make the holiday extra special – and safe – for the entire family.
Keep it clean, keep it distanced
Many of the same common sense health safety tips we use every day apply on Halloween: Wash hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and carry hand sanitizer.
Incorporate your mask into your costume
With so many retailers now selling masks, you can find a mask to match almost any costume! Or, you can purchase simple white masks and let your kids decorate them with fabric pens (paint isn’t recommended, as it can make the mask less breathable). Or try tie-dye for a colorful alternative.
Have a virtual costume party with friends and family
You can dress up, make halloween treats, and meet your friends and family on Zoom for a virtual party. Host a costume contest with virtual prizes, such as gift cards.
Have a Halloween scavenger hunt in your own house or yard
If you plan to stay home on Halloween, consider coming up with a candy scavenger hunt – hide treats all around your house or yard and let your little ghost or goblin loose to find it all. They’ll get the thrill of collecting candy without having to leave home!
Trick or Treat safely
If you live in an area with lower COVID rates, or if you are comfortable with trick or treating, you might still be heading out to knock on doors, or you may be manning the door to hand out candy. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:
- Wear a mask, whether you’re trick or treating or handing out candy
- Carry hand sanitizer and use it between houses/trick or treaters
- If you get to a house and there are other people already at the door, stand back and give them space. This might mean waiting on the sidewalk until they pass.
- If you are handing out candy, think about ways to give out candy without getting too close. You can pre-package goodie bags and leave them on a small table 6’ from your front door, and greet children from inside when they approach. Consider leaving a bottle of hand sanitizer out for people to use as they approach.
- Consider creating a one-way path for trick or treaters coming to your house – they can approach using the path to your front door and leave via the driveway.
Whatever you decide to do, Halloween can still be fun for the whole family. For more tips and information about whether certain activities are high- or low-risk, please visit the CDC’s Holiday page.
With fall–and flu season–fast approaching, COVID-19 is still circulating the country, and experts fear the combination may overwhelm already strained healthcare systems. Influenza accounts for hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year. Children younger than 5 years old–especially those younger than 2– are at high risk of developing serious complications from the seasonal virus. Hospitals often reach peak capacity during the flu season, and if COVID-19 cases also surge, it will be difficult for medical centers to maintain life-saving resources. Will there be enough open beds, oxygen, ventilators, masks and gowns to provide critical care?
To make matters more complicated, the two viral diseases share similar symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath and severe fatigue. As parents, you may soon need to decipher whether a sick child has flu or COVID-19. Should you quarantine or visit the doctor? Researchers are still looking into distinguishing factors.
The possibility of a “twindemic” is undoubtedly frightening. Fortunately, there are steps we can all take to protect our families, and reduce the impact of this year’s flu.
Take precautions this flu season.
- Get Vaccinated. As the world anxiously awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s important to remember that a safe and effective flu vaccine already exists. The CDC has worked with manufacturers to ensure that extra flu vaccine is available this year. Get flu shots for the whole family this September or early October, and encourage your friends to do the same. We can all do our part to prevent respiratory illness from spreading in our communities.
- Keep your distance. The social distancing measures we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic may help to slow influenza. Avoid close proximity to others when possible.
- Wear your mask. Masks help protect us from both COVID-19 and Influenza, which spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. Reduce the airborne transmission of viral disease by wearing your mask indoors and out. New evidence shows it also helps the wearer.
- Wash your hands. Frequent handwashing is a simple and powerful tool to prevent illness. You know the drill: soap, water, and at least 20 seconds of scrubbing. Help your little ones do the same.
2020’s public health crises continue to challenge our country, but we’re stronger together. Protect yourself and your loved ones with a flu shot and basic safety measures, and know that our medical team is here to provide quality care and advice when you need it.