FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The CDC reported more than 1 million children younger than 12 nationwide have gotten their first dose of the COVID vaccine so far.
On Friday, Gov. Jared Polis said at least 5% of Colorado's newly eligible kids got their first doses.
Pfizer trial data released by the United States Food and Drug Administration showed what the participants between the ages of 5 and 11 felt following their first and second doses.
According to the data, after the first shot, the leading side effect was fatigue. About 33% of kids felt that. It jumped to 39% after the second dose.
A headache was reported in 22% of children after the first dose, and 28% after the second dose.
9NEWS spoke to Kaiser Permanente Dr. Hector De Leon to see if the reported side effects are on par with what the pediatrician has seen since he began administering vaccines to children 5 to 11 years old.
(Editor's note: Responses have been edited for context and clarity.)
9NEWS: What have the side effects been like for children between the ages of 5 and 11?
De Leon: Fortunately with children, the side effects we’ve been seeing are very mild, and that’s super reassuring. So typically four of 10 might end up with a mild headache or some fatigue. A smaller amount may have a low-grade fever or just general chills or just sort of feeling tired.
Really it hasn’t been to a point where we’re seeing alarms going off, or major concerns. So I think as a parent myself, that’s super reassuring. It’s finally something kids feel like they can do to take care of this pandemic.
I always tell people when they get this vaccine and they have symptoms of body aches or maybe a mild fever, that means your immune system is working and it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, so that’s actually a good thing.
What's your message to parents concerned about serious side effects or long-term side effects?
De Leon: You’re not alone in having those concerns, and pediatricians and your primary care providers, we’re here to listen and talk to you about these concerns. I think using the information that we have and our experience now, we can gladly invite you to have a conversation with us. So I’m asking families to reach out to their pediatrician, their family medicine docs, their provider, and have that conversation, because you’re not alone in having those concerns and we’re happy to help walk you through it.
Why is it important to get this younger age group vaccinated?
De Leon: As we’re all ready to be done with this pandemic, this is sort of the final piece that’s missing. I think we got our adults vaccinated, young adults and even older adolescents and kids, and I think as far as the risk for transmission, it’s still been highest with this smaller group of unvaccinated children. They’re also at risk for disease burden on themselves, and so even though children tend to not get as sick as often, they can. So there have been children in the hospital with COVID complications, and it’s to prevent those hospitalizations and deaths even.
Is there more concern for kids that don't get vaccinated rather than those that do?
De Leon: That’s absolutely true. I think the vaccine’s safe, it works, it's been proven to work time and time again. And I think for these younger children, many are eager to be back in school and their full activities without any more restrictions, so this is what we can do on that path to get there. It’s safe and it works, and like I said, the kids are doing great with it as far as we can tell so far.
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