(WXMI) — From the White House to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the push to vaccinate the nation’s youngest eligible members is on.
Two weeks out from kids ages 5 to 11 receiving federal approval for the COVID-19 vaccination, 10% have already received their first dose.
There are an estimated 28 million American children in that age range, and doctors are pleased with the progress so far.
“Overall, for this age group, the benefits really did outweigh the risks,” said Dr. Elizabeth Lloyd, a pediatric and infectious disease expert with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Lloyd notes that going into the colder months, COVID-19 isn’t the only viral threat to children.
“RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, has been circulating, influenza has started circulating recently; we’ve also seen kids coming in with multiple viruses,” she said on a virtual conference call Thursday with other doctors around the state. “It’s even more important to get vaccinated now that our state numbers are higher. We’re heading into winter; we’re heading into the holidays.”
Dr. Lloyd said multiple studies have shown there’s no harm in co-administering vaccines, meaning children can get inoculated for COVID simultaneously to other seasonal viruses like the flu.
So far, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in 5- to 11-year-olds. No doctor on the call recommended waiting for another vaccine to get approval, but did recommend waiting 90 days after a recovery from COVID-19 before getting a vaccine.
Bechara Choucair, the White House vaccine coordinator, told FOX 17 he understands parents may have trepidation over vaccinating their kids but urged them to talk to a trusted medical professional.
“We want to make sure that those parents are getting answers; they’re getting facts,” said Choucair. “That’s why we’re encouraging parents to talk to their pediatrician, talk to their family physician. And I have no doubt that when people get the facts about the vaccine, they will be much more inclined to getting their kids vaccinated.”
Symptoms for kids are similar to those of adults: pain or soreness at the injection site, fever, headache, fatigue, body aches — all mild side effects that only last a day or two.
Dr. Lloyd also said that studies have shown the vaccine does not trigger or exacerbate symptoms in kids who are prone to seizures or high fever.
She also reminded skeptics that mRNA technology is not a new vaccine technology and is in fact naturally occurring in the body. She said it’s the best bet to get kids back to normalcy.
“Disruption of school, disruption of daily activities, these things are really important for children as they learn and grow and develop,” she said, “and potentially being vaccinated could lead to less of these disruptions in their daily lives.”