Delays, misinformation and pandemic fatigue. Key info on COVID vaccines for kids under 5.

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A digestible guide for parents navigating a changing vaccination landscape for kids.

by Katelyn Vue and Sophia Levin, PublicSource

After almost two years of the pandemic, many parents with infants and toddlers have been waiting for a vaccine to lower the risk of contracting or spreading COVID. 

But the possibility of swift approval was put on hold when the FDA announced Feb. 11 that it would wait for more data before weighing in. 

Amid lackluster results for a two-shot vaccine for some children under 5, widespread misinformation and changing pandemic safety guidelines, even parents who have been vaccinated may feel hesitant about starting their young ones on a series of shots if approved.

So how can parents make sense of the delay and the flurry of information on vaccines for young children?

Dr. Michael Green, a professor and medical director of Infection Prevention and Antimicrobial Stewardship at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, walked through the recent updates. 

Green explained that  the delay was imposed because additional information is needed to prove efficacy, not because of safety concerns. Trial data showed that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine seem to have minimal effects on participants between 2 and 5 years old. Children between 6 and 24 months developed antibodies, Green explained, but whether this would protect vaccine recipients was unclear. Study of the impact of the vaccine, including a third dose, is ongoing.

Dr. Andrew Nowalk, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, expressed similar confidence about the vaccine’s safety.

“The main things I hear from parents are: ‘This was rushed.’ ‘We didn’t know about this.’ ‘This is brand new technology.’ When I hear that, I will say to them, No. 1, this technology has been around for 25 years in one form or another … and it’s been used in coronavirus vaccines for a decade.” 

As the authorization process unfolds, parents may be wondering where to find accurate information and what to make of the approval process. We’ve compiled key resources and asked Nowalk and Green to explain what parents should know about the vaccine’s safety.


Where to find updated information 


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