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Health Matters: Common concerns for children's COVID vaccines

As vaccines become available for children ages 5-11, some parents are questioning whether their child should get a shot.

HOUSTON — Within a week of the FDA’s emergency authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, nearly a million children in this age group in the United States have been vaccinated.

And while many parents are still not ready to get their kids the shot, Dr. Michael Chang with UT Physicians says getting this age group vaccinated is key to helping end the pandemic.

“If we can reduce the burden of disease, reduce transmission, reduce the number of infections, we reduce the opportunity for new variants,” says Dr. Chang.

The dose given to kids ages 5 through 11 is a third of the amount given to teens and adults.

To ensure your child is getting the appropriate amount, Dr. Chang says it doesn't hurt to look at the cap of vaccine vial.

“The adult doses have a vial that has a purple cap, and the pediatric vial has an orange cap.”

The CDC is investigating reports of rare cases of inflammation of the heart – conditions like myocarditis and pericarditis – that happen within a week of a child receiving an MRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Chang says male patients ages 15 to the early 20s are at the highest risk of developing it but says those cases need to be put into perspective.

“This age group – even before the COVID vaccination – was already at the highest risk of developing myocarditis from other causes,” says Dr. Chang.

The US has seen a downturn in COVID cases, but with an uptick in holiday travel, and winter sending activities indoors, Dr. Chang hopes parents trust the science.

“We studied the data: 3,000 vaccine recipients in this age group, and no serious side effects.”

The FDA reports at least 1.8 million children between ages 5 and 11 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 8,600 children have been hospitalized, with 1 in 3 hospitalizations requiring intensive care. More than 140 young children have died.

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