The Journal Gazette
Thursday, November 04, 2021 1:00 am


For safety's sake

COVID-19 vaccines shown OK for children

EDITORIAL BOARD | The Journal Gazette

Ending the pandemic seemed a bit closer Tuesday, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11.

It's now time for parents to get their kids shots.

The vaccines federal regulators approved this week are safe, effective and one of the last steps toward an eventual return to normal. Indiana's vaccination rate – 57.6% of those 12 and older, as of Wednesday afternoon – continues to lag, and inoculating children will bolster that number, helping to ensure safety for them and others.

There are about 600,000 Hoosiers ages 5 to 11, and Fort Wayne pediatrician Dr. Tony GiaQuinta says there's little reason not to get them vaccinated. Some parents won't; an IUPUI study this year said fewer than half will seek shots amid worries about side effects and long-term problems.

Experts say those concerns are understandable but unfounded.

“I say this both from looking at the safety data from the trials involving children in this age group, and also from my experience and knowledge from vaccinating children in my 10 years as a pediatrician,” GiaQuinta, past president of the Indiana American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in The Journal Gazette. “The short-term side effects, similar to the other vaccines we give and trust, are minor and well tolerated. Thankfully, there were zero serious reactions involving children.”

Where can you get a pediatric vaccine?

State officials have said more than 1,300 locations will be doling out shots. Those include health departments, doctor's offices and pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens.

Starting at 8 a.m. today, appointments can be made at, the state's vaccination portal.

Shots also are available at Memorial Coliseum.

Will children need more than one shot?

Yes. Five- to 11-year-olds will receive two low doses, three weeks apart. A smaller needle than the ones used for adults will be used.

Are they effective?

Pfizer reported its study of nearly 2,300 children found the vaccine is nearly 91% effective.

The Food and Drug Administration studied more than 3,000 additional children, reporting shots are safe and might result in minor reactions such as sore arms, fever and achiness – the same side effects reported by adults who received their vaccines.

Why do kids need to be vaccinated?

Children, generally, have been less affected by COVID-19. But the risk isn't zero.

There have been more than 8,300 pediatric hospitalizations in the U.S. caused by the coronavirus, and nearly 2,100 of those patients have required treatment in an intensive care unit. There have been 94 deaths in the 5 to 11 age range nationally, and the youngest patient to be killed by COVID-19 in Allen County was 4.

COVID-19 is now the eighth-leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 11, according to a presentation given last month by Dr. Fiona Havers, a member of a CDC epidemiology task force.

The shots are not required, and Gov. Eric Holcomb has said there are no plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations.

The FDA is reviewing whether Moderna shots for 12- to 17-year-olds are safe.

The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for younger children.

Parents anxious about protecting their children – and others – now have a way to keep them safe.

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