Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic reached our shores in 2019, life has been a rollercoaster for all of us, especially the children. While staying home has been a welcome change for many adults, children have lost out on many meaningful experiences in and out of school. The virus does not seem to be in a hurry to leave, but with every day that passes, children are missing more. The best way for them to continue with their lives safely is to get vaccinated. Having said that, parents are apprehensive, and rightfully so. We collated some of your most common questions about child vaccinations and got a paediatrician to answer them. Read on to find out more.
The Asian Parent (TAP) Poll on Childhood Vaccination
To answer your questions, we approached Dr. Shermela Appan, Senior Consultant and Paediatrician at StarMed Specialist Centre. Dr. Appan has been a Singapore Ministry of Health accredited paediatrician for the past 39 years, with special interests in children’s growth and puberty, and asthma and allergies. Given her experience and knowledge, we are sure that she’s in a great position to answer all your questions!
1. How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine for young children?
This is probably the first question that comes to every parent’s mind. You’d be glad to know that Dr. Appan assures you it is safe.
Yes, it is indeed safe. It was after much careful consideration that the Ministry of Health decided to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to the 5 to 11 years age group at the end of December 2021. This was done after receiving the safety data from the clinical trials done by Pfizer in this age group. Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine (10 micrograms) is approved. Also, more than 5 million children have been vaccinated since October 2021 in USA, and most had only mild side effects. From the studies, the vaccine has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation and also preventing severe complications of COVID disease. Overall, the benefit of taking the vaccine outweighs the risk of rare serious side effects.
2. Is Covid-19 child vaccination safe for children with Asthma/Eczema/Drug allergy?
The vaccine is safe for children with these conditions. There is no evidence that they are at a higher risk of developing serious allergy, like anaphylaxis to the vaccine. As for children with Asthma and other chronic medical problems, it is advisable to seek medical advice first to ensure that the condition is stable before the vaccination.
3. What are the expected common side effects of Covid-19 child vaccination in children?
Pain at the injection site, feeling tired, headache, fever, chills, and body aches are the common side effects following vaccination. These may come on a few hours after the injection and last for 1 to 3 days. Generally, the reports show that the side effects of Covid-19 child vaccination are much less in this age group compared to adolescents.
4. How can parents keep their child calm on the Covid-19 vaccination day?
First of all, parents should remain calm and set the mood. Bring along your child’s favourite soft toy to cuddle or distract your child with music or videos on the mobile phone. The parent can seat the child on their lap with the child facing away. Hug the child and keep the arms down firmly. This helps to calm the child and at the same time prevent any accidental jerk or panic at the last moment. Praising the child and giving a small treat after vaccination helps to reinforce positive experiences.
5. How should parents care for their child after the Covid-19 child vaccination?
Observe the child closely for any rash or swelling of the eyes and lips, although most allergy symptoms to the vaccine occur within the first half-hour after vaccination. However, should this occur, the child should be immediately taken to the nearest Emergency Department. Paracetamol syrup can be given to ease pain and fever should the child develop these symptoms. It should not be given in anticipation of symptoms. There is no need for Ibuprofen. Strenuous activities like jogging, swimming, competitive sports, and Physical Education (PE) should be avoided for two weeks. Regular home activity is fine.
And we have one last question, as our TAP poll had two questions sharing the top 5th place for the most common questions about Covid-19 child vaccination:
6. Can children still get COVID-19 after being vaccinated?
Yes, it is a possibility as no vaccine is 100% effective and also since there are quite a few variants now. However, the symptoms and the course of the disease will be milder with faster recovery in vaccinated children.
So there you go, mums and dads. Dr. Appan has answered your top six questions about Covid-19 child vaccination. Whilst your anxiety is completely understandable, there’s no need to fret too much as it is generally safe, and definitely safer than not being vaccinated. If you would feel more confident upon doing a further assessment to evaluate if your child is eligible for Covid-19 child vaccination, please book an appointment with Dr. Shermela Appan at StarMed Specialist Centre here. Go forth with confidence for the Covid-19 child vaccine, it is for the best!