Ask a Doctor | 5 Questions Moms are Asking about the COVID-19 Vaccine

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This content was created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information or to find vaccines near you, visit vaccines.gov; text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about COVID vaccines.

We have been living with COVID-19 for over two years now. And in many ways, our families are getting back to some version of normal life. Since COVID vaccines are widely available, many of us aren’t as hesitant to gather with friends, travel, and let our kids participate in activities. However, many parents still have questions about COVID-19 vaccines and children. City Mom Collective polled our audience and found that many of these questions overlap among families. We are so grateful that Dr. Michelle Mitchell, an infectious disease physician at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, took the time to answer these questions.

Dr. Michelle Mitchell is a graduate of Arizona State University and St. Louis University School of Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at St. Louis University/Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at University of Colorado School of Medicine/Children’s Hospital Colorado. She joined the Medical College of Wisconsin faculty in 2017. She currently serves as the fellowship program director for pediatric infectious disease.

5 Questions Moms are Asking About the COVID-19 Vaccine

How safe and effective are COVID vaccines for kids?

The data shows they are very safe and effective. Over 26 million children have been vaccinated for COVID under the most robust intense monitoring systems in US history. Additionally, we have robust data on the vaccine response both in adults and children. We also have our own observational data that physicians see in the hospital. When kids are admitted to the hospital with COVID, it is for severe disease that occurs in patients who are not vaccinated. So we know these are these are highly effective and very safe vaccines.

Can children get natural immunity against COVID instead of that provided by vaccines?

It’s true that much of the severe disease that occurs with COVID is in older adults. But we do see severe disease in children. Almost universally, children admitted to the hospital for COVID are unvaccinated. While children will mount some kind of immune response after they get natural COVID disease, it’s impossible to predict what that response is going to be. And it’s also impossible to predict if their infection will be severe over time or a mild case. We have a very safe and effective vaccine. So why risk it?

How well are we seeing 5-11 vaccines holding up? Will this group need boosters?

Currently, boosters are only recommended for children between the ages of 12 and 17, as well as adults.  While there is some early data showing that there is some waning of that immunity in children, this is kind of similar to what we’ve seen in adults. What does remain is the effectiveness against severe disease like what we have seen in adults, however,  we can’t treat children like adults, because we know that they can be different. We are going to have to see where the data leads us on that. We don’t currently recommend boosters for children under the age of 12. That could potentially change, but as of now, those vaccines are holding up against severe disease.

What’s the current position on regular, annual COVID vaccines? Will it be similar to the flu shot?

That is a great question. I think this is something that we’re all probably wondering a little bit about, but it is too early to tell if that’s the direction that the data is going to lead us. There are going to be a lot of factors that go into that, including, how well is immunity maintained from the vaccine over the really long term? Which age groups or types of patients might that be relevant to? And potentially what variants are circulating as well, and, and how well the vaccines hold up against those variants. It is all going to be evolving data. The scientists continue to track this data and will keep us informed if things change.

Should my child be vaccinated even if they already had COVID?

Yes, because if they got COVID again, it’s hard to predict both the severity of the infection and the type of immune response that would occur. Data shows that in unvaccinated people, the severity of infection does not correlate well with the type of immune response they are going to get. We know the vaccine provides a predictable immune response in both children and adults. We also have data that shows that vaccination after infection actually gives remarkable antibody levels. These are much more robust than someone who has only had natural infection. This data also shows that you might have future protection against potential variants. Again, vaccines are safe and effective. Why risk it? 

Still have questions about your child getting a COVID vaccine? Ask your pediatrician.

Catch the full interview here:

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Elizabeth was raised in Houston and met her husband Ryan shortly after graduating from Texas A&M with a journalism degree. A few years later, Grayson {Sept 2010}, turned Elizabeth’s world upside down, not only with his sparkling blue eyes and killer smile, but with his profound disabilities and diagnosis of Mitochondrial Disease. After two years of navigating the world of special needs parenting, Elizabeth and Ryan were blessed with Charlotte {Jan 2013} and Nolan {Sept 2015}, perfectly completing their party of five. Elizabeth and her crew live in Katy, Texas, and when she can steal a few moments for herself, she can be found out for Mexican food and margaritas with girlfriends, binge-listening to podcasts and audiobooks, or trying once again {unsuccessfully} to organize her closet. In addition to her role with City Mom Collective, Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for Houston Moms. You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebook, Instagram or elizabethkbaker.com.

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