SHREVEPORT, La. — Ochsner Health System hosted a Facebook live Q&A Friday to answer questions about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-to-11.
The vaccine was authorized this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices after last week’s authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
One question asked was whether kids who have already contracted COVID-19 need to be vaccinated. Ochsner pediatrician Dr. James Wayne said they should.
“Even if they’ve been exposed and already fought off COVID-19, they absolutely should still get the vaccine,” Wayne said. “There’s not enough data right now to show how long the antibodies will last after you’ve had a COVID-19 infection. Getting the vaccine adds another layer of protection.”
Other questions submitted by parents were whether the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can give a child the coronavirus, and whether kids can get their other vaccines, like the flu shot and MMR vaccine, at the same time.
“I have a lot of parents that have concerns about the vaccine being a live virus vaccine, and they’re worried this vaccine is going to somehow give their child COVID-19. And that’s not the case. This is not a live virus vaccine. It’s not going to give your child COVID,” Wayne said. “And it’s safe to give it along with other vaccines.”
An additional concern of parents is the data that connects mRNA vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — to myocarditis and pericarditis, which are inflammatory heart conditions. Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, the medical director of infection control and prevention, said the data shows that it is extremely rare for the vaccines to cause the condition.
Those who did develop the conditions were typically young men between 16 and 29, and their symptoms were mild and they recovered quickly. Baumgarten said there is no data linking the condition to the vaccine in the 5-to-11 age group. In fact, she says the risk for developing the conditions is much greater for those who actually contract the COVID-19 virus.
“With COVID, we see far greater numbers of myocarditis and pericarditis that can even lead to death, unfortunately, in young people who get COVID. We have had that happen in our hospital. I’ve seen cases of that myself,” Baumgarten said. “And so, we want to be sure that people understand that even though there may be this association with the vaccine and it’s rare, that with COVID itself, the risk is much higher for getting myocarditis or pericarditis.”
To see the complete question and answer session, visit the Ochsner Health System Facebook page.