Experts Answer All the Questions from Parents about Vaccinating Children

Now that vaccination for children over the age of 12 has been given the green light, many parents are wondering if it is safe or necessary to vaccinate their children. Experts in the field of pediatrics, infectious diseases and immunization of children emphasize that the science is very clear – the benefits of vaccination outweigh all the potential risks. In Nort Macedonia, 632 children under the age of 18 have been vaccinated so far with the vaccine of the manufacturer “Pfizer”. Health officials are urging parents to vaccinate their children.

Portalb.mk presents the findings from some of the most reliable studies related to the process of immunization of children.

The Pfizer vaccine is now approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration.

Recently, EMA also recommended the “Moderna” vaccine for children aged 12 to 18.

In North Macedonia, the vaccination of children aged 12 to 18 years began on 12 July. The Ministry of Health emphasizes that the experience with the vaccination of this age group in the USA, Canada and the EU has shown that the “Pfizer” vaccine is safe and effective in children.

“Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer are safe and approved by the European Medicines Agency and the FDA for use in children over 12 years of age. We suggest vaccination of this category because the new variants of the virus, more precisely the delta variant, are mostly spread in unvaccinated persons. Vaccination of children over 12 in the United States, Canada and other EU countries began in March 2021 and experience shows that this vaccine is safe and effective in children and is the only way to protect the elderly from Covid-19”, said the Ministry of Health.

Through Portalb.mk, the health authorities in the Republic of North Macedonia appeal to the parents to vaccinate their children, because this will help for the normal course of the educational process.

“Given that classes are expected to begin with physical presence, vaccination of children is one of the recommendations for the normal conduct of the educational process and because of that, we appeal to parents to vaccinate their children,” added the Ministry of Health.

So far, 632 children have been vaccinated in North Macedonia, but how many children have been hospitalized as a result of Covid-19?

The number of children who ended up in hospital as a result of coronavirus infection in North Macedonia is not very large. However, long-term effects on the child’s body as a result of the deterioration of the coronavirus condition are not excluded.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic until today, 67 patients whose condition has worsened as a result of infection with Covid-19 have been registered in the University Clinic for Children’s Diseases,” the Ministry of Health told Portalb.mk.

Expert answers to questions that bother parents

-Is it possible for my child to get infected with Covid-19?

Yes. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have called for immediate approval of vaccines against Covid-19, which these organizations have tested in clinical trials and found to be safe and effective. The vaccine from the manufacturer “Pfizer” is currently approved for use in children over 12 years of age.

The analyzes for the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for children over 2 years of age are in progress, after which in the coming months it will be possible to approve a vaccine against Covid-19 for younger children.

-Should I vaccinate my child against Covid-19?

Yes. Experts, including those from Johns Hopkins, believe that the benefits of this Anti-Covid 19 vaccine surpass the potential risks. Some children often catch the infection more easily than adults, some children may develop serious complications or long-term symptoms, which can affect their health and well-being. This virus can cause death in children, but such cases are less common than in older people.

Like the elderly, children can transmit the virus to other people if they are infected (and have no symptoms). The Covid-19 vaccine protects children, family members or friends and others from this potential risk.

Another reason why you should vaccinate your children is to protect public health. Every child or adult infected with the coronavirus gives the virus the opportunity to create mutations and variants that may be more dangerous and resistant to vaccines and therapies. The lower the number of infections in the population, the lower the chances of new dangerous variants.

VACCINE, Photo: Mat Napo, Unsplash

– Is there cause for concern?

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control say it is important that the vaccine is safe. They review all clinical trials before deciding whether or not to approve a vaccine for a specific group of citizens and work with the manufacturer to monitor the side effects of the vaccine.

Are the side effects of the vaccine the same in children as in the elderly?

Overall, yes. Pfizer reports that the side effects of the vaccine are similar in the elderly and children. Your child may experience arm pain and fatigue. Headaches, muscle aches, and fever are possible. These side effects are temporary and usually, go away after 48 hours.

– Is the risk of getting infected with Covid-19 in children increasing now that the beginning of the school year is approaching?

According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control, returning to school with a physical presence is not a major risk factor for children if they adhere to prevention measures, such as wearing a mask and physical distance. Parties, playgrounds, family gatherings, weddings, and funerals are considered to be the most dangerous places where your child can be infected. Getting your child vaccinated early helps prevent infection and the spread of the coronavirus.

These questions were answered by Anna Sick-Samuels, a physician at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and Allison Messina, a physician at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital.

Some of the benefits of vaccinating children are published in the Hopkins Medicine article.

One benefit of vaccinating children is that it can save the lives of others. This approach is already used for the common flu. In some places, two-year-olds are given the vaccine by nose every year, mainly to protect their grandparents. Another argument is that vaccination against Covid-19 can help to achieve collective immunity – and the virus will be difficult to spread because a large part of the population will have immunity. Covid-19 vaccines are very effective in stopping the spread of the virus. Just one dose of the vaccine reduces the spread of the virus by 50 percent, but even if you do get infected, you are half as likely to pass the virus on to others.

Younger children are not serious transmitters of the virus, but teenagers are

“There’s certainly evidence of potential for transmission in secondary school ages, so vaccinating could have an impact on overall transmission,” said Adam Kucharski, a physician at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Your prejudices, conspiracies, and concerns – addressed by experts

“The long-term side effects of vaccinating children are not yet known.”

The information available on the side effects of the vaccine was obtained from clinical trials that began in July 2020. Pfizer had more than 46,000 volunteers in the third phase of clinical trials including 2,260 children aged 12-15.

In teens, reactions were common: arm pain, fatigue, and headache. Fever, muscle aches, joint pain, and swelling and redness at the vaccination site were some of the rarest symptoms.

“It would be ‘very unusual’ to talk about other unknown effects at this time,” said Dr. Boom. He added that the side effects of the vaccines appear in the first 60 days after receiving the vaccine.

The Center for Disease Control is looking at some reports of inflammation of the heart (called myocarditis) in adolescents and children after receiving a second dose of the mRNA vaccine, but it is too early to say whether this is directly related to the vaccine. The number of reported cases after vaccination does not differ from the expected number by the Center for Infectious Diseases. In other words, it can be a coincidence and nothing more. However, the investigation continues.

Vaccine, Photo: Anadolu Agency

“Covid-19 vaccine will cause infertility in children”

Concern that the Covid-19 vaccine could cause infertility is a myth that is spreading on social media. Scientists say there is no basis for such a conclusion. Vaccines do not cause infertility in either men or women.

The Pfizer vaccine, or so-called mRNA vaccine, teaches our cells to produce spike protein, the same protein found in SARS-Cov-2. Our immune system responds by making protective antibodies. Thus, if you come in contact with the virus in the future, your immune system will know how to fight it.

But there is no mechanism that can transfer mRNA to the nucleus of a cell where genes are made. “This is biologically impossible,” Tan said. “Therefore, it is impossible to affect the ovaries or the cells of the reproductive organs, or the sperm.”

“My child may have a dangerous allergic reaction”

“In reality, the rate of anaphylaxis is extremely low in the tens of millions of people who are vaccinated,” said Dr. Jones.

No case of allergic reaction has been reported in clinical trials in children aged 12 to 15 years who have been vaccinated with Pfizer.

The reason for not receiving the vaccine may be a strong allergic reaction to any of its ingredients.

The Centers for Disease Control advises health authorities to be prepared with staff, equipment, and adrenaline to manage allergic reactions.

To avoid this, your child should be monitored for 15 minutes (or 30 minutes if they have a history of allergies) after receiving the vaccine, in the same way as older adults after receiving the vaccine.

The above questions for Health.com were answered by an immunologist, pediatrician, and vaccine expert. The article was translated by Portalb.mk.

Moreover, the process of vaccination of children in North Macedonia has been happening uninterruptedly for several weeks and all interested parents can register their children for vaccination on the official website of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of North Macedonia. Out of a total of 632 vaccinated children in the country, no serious side effects have been reported so far.

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