ST. LOUIS — When the calendar flips to November, children 5 and older could be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID, and the White House has set a goal to get it done before Christmas.
“I was very excited to hear that,” said Dr. Keith Moll, a pediatrician with SSM Health. “I know it’s the next step that we need to take there’s no doubt in my mind.”
“We do this, and we do this right, we will be protecting so many more people and saving so many more lives,” said Dr. Jason Newland, a pediatrician with Washington University Hospital. “We can talk about how wonderful it is to go to concerts, restaurants, ballgames, and have the comfort of knowing it’s super, super safe.”
As federal regulators weigh the data, it appears the Pfizer vaccine will be the first available for kids, and it’s a bit different than the shot approved for parents.
“The dose amount for children 5 to 11 will be a smaller dose, so the vaccine will be not quite as concentrated,” said Dr. Moll.
The shot itself will be administered with a smaller needle, which could make it less painful for kids.
“The vaccine is being put into a muscle,” said Dr. Newland. “Kids don’t have the same muscle mass, so you don’t need as big of a needle. You just need to make sure the needle gets into the muscle and you deliver the vaccine into the muscle.”
While the side effects are expected to be about the same as the ones seen in adults.
“Still that same headache,” said Dr. Newland. “I don’t feel well, I hurt, and I have a fever.”
There is an additional side effect that could make a lot of parents happy.
“This will lead to more kids in school because you don’t have to quarantine if you’re vaccinated,” said Dr. Newland. “That will translate to this age group as well. I do think it’s very possible that we can start having the conversations of backing off on mitigation strategies like masks.”
Many local hospitals, including SSM Health, are allowing parents to fill out forms online ahead of time to make sure the process is as quick as possible for when the vaccine becomes available for children.