As the spread of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in our daily lives, we must all be extra vigilant to protect ourselves and our family members against this deadly virus. It is not just the adults that need to be careful against COVID-19; we must also think about our children as new variants of this virus have proven to be equally deadly to them. Thus, we must find ways to prevent serious cases of hospitalization amongst our children with the help of mass vaccination.
All parents should hasten to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19. However, some of these COVID-19 vaccines are still very new to the market and not much data is available about their effectiveness in children’s bodies. As we all know, children are not as healthy as adults as their immune systems are still developing at that age. Thus, they may be susceptible to the adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. This means that parents have an additional duty to know everything about a vaccine before they decide to vaccinate their children with it.
What is the suitable age for a child to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Which vaccine formula is most effective for children?
In the context of Thailand, the suitable age for a child to get the COVID-19 vaccine is 5-11. Thailand’s health authority recommends Pfizer’s formula as the most effective form of vaccination for children between the ages of 5-11. Pfizer’s vaccine formula designed for children is equally effective as that for adults in preventing the harmful effects of COVID-19. The only difference in both the formulas is that the children’s formula uses only about a third of the ratio (10 micrograms, which is approximately 0.2 ml) in its dosage as that is the safe amount applicable for children.
Parents can identify Pfizer’s special vaccine formula when they see an orange vaccine cap which signifies that the manufacturer has designed this vaccine specifically for use in children. A total of 2 injections (2 doses) should be used for intramuscular injections, and this should be administered with a spacing of 8-12 weeks per dose.
Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine for children
There are some possible side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine designed for children which are similar to that of adults, but the severity of these side effects can vary. These side effects are pain in the muscles at the injection site, pain in the eyes, and joints, fever, and chills, but these symptoms will get better within 24-48 hours after vaccination.
Under what conditions should children not get vaccinated against COVID-19?
There are 2 specific conditions that parents need to take note of, under which conditions they should not vaccinate their child against COVID-19 as they may trigger other serious side effects. These 2 conditions are:
1. The child is currently sick with a fever. When a child is suffering from fever, their body becomes weak. Thus, the parents should wait for their sick child to completely recover and be healthy again to be ready for the COVID-19 vaccine injections.
2. Children with underlying medical conditions should be excluded from vaccination because they may face a serious risk of death. These preexisting medical conditions should be assessed by a doctor before getting the green signal for a COVID-19 vaccine. The diseases are:
- Respiratory diseases such as moderate to severe asthma, and obesity accompanied by airway obstruction
- Vascular diseases such as cerebrovascular disease, heart disease
- Chronic renal disease
- Genetic disease and Down syndrome
- Children with low immunity in the body
Additional things to know before taking the COVID-19 vaccine for children
In the case of children having the first injection at the age of 11 and waiting for the second injection at the age of 12, it is recommended to vaccinate that child with the Pfizer formula for adults. The adult vaccine formula has a dose of 30 micrograms and a purple cap. This dosage is the same for older children that are between the ages of 12-18.
The information outlined above should be known by every parent before they decide to take the COVID-19 vaccine for their children. Always remember to be extra cautious after your child takes the COVID-19 vaccine injection. This is an important step that you as a parent can exercise to reduce the risk of your child experiencing severe side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.