NLH official with advice to parents on under 5 COVID vaccines

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 2:59 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Children under the age of 5 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

As parents try to decide how to handle this latest advancement in combatting the virus, Brian Sullivan spoke with an official at Northern Light Hospital to learn more.

“Yes, this has been a long time coming, and we’re happy to see that the safety profile for these two vaccines for children, ages six months to five years is now available,” said Dr. James Jarvis, Northern Light Health.

Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine have been approved for children over the age of six months.

“For the Pfizer vaccine, it’s a three week interval between the first, the second, and then I believe a two month interval before you get the third, and Moderna I believe is a three week interval to go between those two shots for the Moderna vaccine,” Jarvis said.

We asked Jarvis what, if any, side effects children had in the trials.

“The sore arm. The kids seem to have a fever a little bit more often than adolescents did. That’s no surprise. We often see that with childhood vaccines, but most kids did very well. They didn’t see any cases of inflammation around the heart, which I know is a concern for a lot of people,” he said.

Jarvis says parents need to assess their child’s health.

“Certainly if you have a child that’s susceptible to severe disease, meaning that they have some underlying medical condition that they’re currently being treated for, particularly if it’s a child with cancer, who’s undergoing chemotherapy. Those are children who are at a much higher risk and those parents really strongly consider speaking with their providers about whether or not they should get their child vaccinated,” Jarvis said. “For healthy children, most of them will have mild disease if they were to contract COVID, and some studies have shown that in this age category, upwards of 75% of children have already been infected with COVID, but we never can predict which of those children would wind up having, you know, a severe case. Unfortunately, COVID can cause severe disease in children, and it has caused death in some children in this age category. And so, there is that risk.”

A recent social media post from Dr. Nirav Shah lists COVID-19 as a leading cause of death among children 1-4 years old from March of 2020 to April of this year.

“Unfortunately, now it’s become harder and harder for us to predict where the next waves are going to come with with COVID-19, and it’s not a matter of if it will come, we know it will come. It’s just a matter of when,” Jarvis said.

Ultimately, it’s a discussion between parents and their children’s doctor.

“This is not when we were talking about two years ago with the immediacy of trying to get people vaccinated, you know, this doesn’t have to be done today. And so, you know, people can certainly think about it, reach out to their primary care providers or pediatrician and ask, you know, whether or not the vaccine, you know, whether they recommend the vaccine. Again, we support this particular vaccine, and we’ll take both of these vaccines, and we’ll be administering them within the next week,” Jarvis said.

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