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Arkansas Children's Prepares for Kids' Vaccine Questions

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Monday, June 20, 2022   

The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines were cleared this weekend for use in children under age five by both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Parents likely have questions, and at Arkansas Children's Hospital, health professionals are gearing up to answer them.

The FDA has said both vaccines are likely to protect kids under age five against severe COVID illness, hospitalization and death. For the week ending June 9, children made up nearly 14% of reported weekly COVID cases.

Dr. Jessica Snowden, division chief for pediatric infectious disease at Arkansas Children's Hospital, thinks the expanded access could help keep cases down.

"There are a lot of kids who develop 'long COVID' syndrome that we are still trying to figure out how to treat and prevent," Snowden pointed out. "So far, the only thing we know that decreases your chance of getting that is being vaccinated. For a lot of parents, this is going to be an important step in protecting their kids as we move through the pandemic."

Parents are being advised to check with their child's pediatrician, and also to take other health precautions to prevent spreading any virus, from covering coughs and sneezes to 'masking up' if local guidelines suggest it. As of June 2, more than 400 deaths in children under age four were COVID-related, according to the CDC.

For parents deciding if the vaccine is a right move for their young children, Snowden pointed to her own experience as a parent and doctor, seeing children who have been in the Intensive Care Unit with long-term COVID symptoms.

"Particularly knowing that we don't have good treatments for this virus yet; this isn't like an ear infection, where I can give you antibiotics, and you'll get better," Snowden emphasized. "If your child gets sick, the things we can do to help them are limited. If I can help any family avoid that, vaccination is the best way to do that."

Pfizer's vaccine will be offered to children ages six months through four years, while Moderna's is for kids six months through five years of age.


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