Parenting Education

Q&A With Expert Series: Vaccinating Children Against Covid-19: Your Crucial Questions Answered

7 min | Updated on 30-03-2023 by HappyPreggie

According to theStar news, a total of 169 710 children between the ages 5 and 11 years have already received their first dose of vaccine against Covid-19. Our Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that the children's vaccination program will include a special vaccine formulation which is a two-dose regime of Pfizer given with an 8-week interval.  However, ever since the announcement was made many parents are flooding their child’s pediatricians with questions about everything regarding the procedures. 

Covid-19 Vaccine in Children
(Q&A Expert Series With Dr. Rakhee)

We understand your worries regarding the effects the Covid-19 vaccine could pose on your munchkins’ well-being. Hence, we have filtered your every concern and question regarding the process and relayed it to our pediatric expert, Dr. Rakhee Yadav from Ara Damansara Medical Centre and Baby & Beyond Child Specialist Clinic Publika. Thanks to our expert that your utmost concerns are answered and now, all you have to do is gear up with your kids and get vaccinated! Before that, we are sure that your questions are here, so let’s get the answers for them, shall we!

Q1. What is the risk of severe Covid-19 infection in children? Why should children be vaccinated against Covid19?

At the time of writing, nearly 580,000 children aged 18 and under have been infected with Covid-19 since the pandemic hit Malaysia in 2020. Of the total, 269,773 involved children aged between 5 and 11. There have been 144 deaths due to Covid-19, among those aged 18 and below and of this, 31 were aged 5 to 11. While it is rare for children to become severely unwell or die from COVID-19, it is still possible for children to get very sick with the disease, and vaccination can help prevent the need for hospital or ICU care and death in children. Vaccination can also help prevent milder but still uncomfortable symptoms like headache, sore throat, cough, or fever. 

Covid-19 Vaccine in Children
(Image credit to Science New)

Vaccination can also reduce the risk that your child will spread COVID-19 to others. There are many people in our community who are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The more people who choose to get vaccinated, the greater protection is offered to our community as a whole. There are also other benefits to vaccinating children in this age group. Vaccination of children can lower the chance that schools need to be closed to help control the spread of COVID-19, makes it less likely that children have to miss out on activities and events, and makes it less likely that their parents and carers will need to make special arrangements (like missing work) to look after them and isolate because they have caught COVID-19.

Q2. How do I prepare my children for their vaccine shots?

It is never too early to prepare your child for their shots. Talking to them about vaccinations can help them feel safe and ready for their vaccine. But before that, please educate yourself with the right information so your children will feel more confident too. Normalize talking about the vaccine with your children so they have nothing to be afraid of. Show them that this can be a positive experience. Tell them the truth, “Yes the shots might hurt but just a little bit, and the pain goes away quickly”. Saying the shots won't hurt damages their trust and makes the whole experience more difficult especially since they have to get their 2nd dose a few weeks later. Talk about how important the vaccines are to them and the people around them, “Your body is super cool and will do a great job keeping you safe from germs. By getting out shots, we are able to help protect people we love from getting sick too”. Encourage them to ask questions and be prepared to answer them. 

Covid-19 Vaccine in Children
(Image credit to Indian Today)

If you are not sure of the answer, it's ok!. Tell them you will find out and update them as soon as you can. This is a great opportunity to role model learning and looks up information together. Validate their feelings. Being scared is normal. Letting them know that it is ok to be scared and that you will help them through it will ease their nerves. Use techniques to minimize pain or discomfort. This can include being held/cuddled, holding their hands, distraction, or deep breathing. Remind kids that it is ok to cry if it hurts. Crying is a normal response to pain. Finally, praise their bravery and reward them. “You did great champ! Your immune system is going to kick some germ butt!”. Reward them with a fun activity, new book, stickers, or a nice meal after getting their shots. React positively and children will react that same way too. Be careful not to associate shots with threats or punishment (for example, “If you don't behave, I'll take you to the doctor to get an injection!”)

Q3. Dr., I want to know if there is any difference in the dosage of vaccines for children? If yes, why is it as such?

Covid-19 Vaccine in Children
(Image credit to Healthline)

Yes, the Covid19 Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 5 to 11 years old is only one-third of the dose of the adult vaccine. It is 10mcg (0.2ml) given as a 2 dose regime with an 8-week interval. This dose was proven in the trials to produce the same antibody response as the higher doses given to adolescents (also known as non-inferiority trials) but with a reduced side effect profile. This means this smaller dose was enough to provide young children 

Q4. What are the possible side effects children can experience after their shots?

Every medical procedure comes with some risks. For the COVID-19 vaccine in children, the most common risks are minor side effects similar to the ones you’d expect from any vaccination. Common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the needle went in (injection site)
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Fever and chills

Other, less common, side effects include:

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of armpits on either side