Orange County Pediatricians Agree: COVID-19 Shots for Younger Children Safe and Effective
With younger children now eligible to get at COVID-19 vaccination, Orange County Government is making sure the experience is safe and comfortable for the children and families getting their shots. In November, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine. That means 28 million children in the United States in this age group, could begin getting a shot immediately.
In response, Orange County Health Services has moved forward with providing these vaccinations on weekends at Barnett Park. An indoor space was chosen inside the administration building – the Marlin Room – which was designed for the comfort and safety of children and families, while getting vaccinated.
“In pediatrics, we focus on disease prevention, and we have years and years of studies that show vaccines help prevent disease,” said Dr. Cynthia Roque, pediatrician with Nemours Children’s Hospital. “With the flu and holiday season upon us, it’s more important than ever to keep our kids safe. The sooner we vaccinate, the better chance we have of staying healthy this holiday season.”
COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (inflammatory syndromes) and long-term complications. Vaccination can protect children from the virus using the safe and effective vaccines already recommended for use in adolescents and adults. Vaccination has been nearly 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years. In clinical trials, side effects were mild, self-limiting and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children.
Dr. Thomas Lacy, Medical Director for Florida Primary Care with Nemours Children’s Hospital, said that on an individual level, vaccination is the cornerstone for healthy children, and the COVID vaccine is very effective in that regard. “Additionally,” he explained, “children are known to be spreaders of viral illnesses, so getting them vaccinated helps us control it in our entire population.”
COVID-19 vaccines have been given to more than 4 billion people around the world with no ill side effects. “It’s important parents tune out the background noise,” added Lacy. “They want their kids to stay safe, and this is an example of how they can keep them safe. It’s like telling your child not to run in the street. You’re keeping them safe and being a good parent.”
Dr. Kenneth Alexander, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Nemours Children’s Hospital, noted kids are still getting sick from COVID, so the first reason to vaccinate them is to protect them. “Parents are asking the right questions, which is great, but the safety profile of the vaccine is solid,” he explained. “Although cases are starting to decline, this virus is going to be in our lives for the foreseeable future, and we want to protect our children for the foreseeable future. Parents should look at immunization as a gesture of love.”
The CDC is encouraging parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated. For Barnett Park vaccines, preregistration and appointments are required through the CDR Maguire Patient Portal prior to arrival. A parent or guardian must be present at the time of vaccination. Children’s vaccinations will be available on Saturdays and Sundays only from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.