I hope you had a wonderful weekend and soaked up the sun!
Last week, Health Canada approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for infants and young children.
Many families have reached out to learn more. Here are the most common questions we have been asked.
Which COVID vaccine was approved to use in young children?
The Moderna vaccine was approved for use in children aged six months to five years.
The doses are ¼ the size of the vaccine approved in adults. The approval was based on the review of clinical trial data from Canada and the United States.
What is the benefit of this vaccine?
Luckily, most children infected with COVID-19 remain healthy save for some cold/flu-like symptoms. However, some children do have severe illness requiring hospitalization and life-saving support, and children have died from COVID.
Severe illness in kids under age five rose considerably since Omicron arrived.
Statistics from the Public Health Agency of Canada show that the rate of severe illness requiring hospitalization rose from 1.4 per 100,000 children between March 2020 and December 2021 to 15.9 per 100,000 between January 2022 and March 2022.
Some parents will choose to vaccinate their young children to reduce the risk of severe illness.
Data from the Omicron era showed that the Moderna vaccine prevented symptomatic COVID illness by 50% in kids 6-23 months of age and 37% in kids 2-5.
We do not know if vaccination prevents the transmission of COVID-19, though other vaccines usually help decrease the spread from one person to another. More data is needed to determine if the Moderna vaccine also does this.
What are the side effects of the Moderna vaccine for young kids?
The study trial data showed that fatigue was the most common vaccine side effect. Some children had pain at the injection site, and parents noted their children were irritable.
Reactions were mild to moderate and side effects were gone within a few days after vaccination.
There were no cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) in the trials.
What should I do if my child recently had COVID-19?
National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) says that kids who test positive for COVID-19 (or have symptoms) should wait eight weeks before receiving their first Moderna vaccine.
This recommendation is not because there is an increased risk of side effects from the vaccine but because waiting longer can lead to a greater and longer-lasting benefit.
What is the dosing schedule for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?
NACI recommends an eight-week interval between the first and the second Moderna dose. The dosing in the trial was four weeks, but research shows that a longer interval between doses increases the immune response, making the vaccine work better and for longer.
Children who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are recommended to get three doses, under a shortened interval of four to eight weeks between doses.
Does the COVID vaccine need to be separated from other vaccines?
NACI recommends waiting at least 14 days between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines. It is not dangerous to give vaccines closer together, but it can make side effects more difficult to differentiate.
Is there a Pfizer vaccine for young children?
Health Canada has not approved the Pfizer vaccine for kids under age five. It has been approved and used in the United States.
The Pfizer vaccine series for the youngest children is three doses. A child does not have a significant immune response until after the third dose. The Moderna vaccine is only two doses. I suspect many parents will rather two doses versus three.
When will the Moderna vaccine be available? Where can my child receive it?
There is no specific timeline provided by Health Canada yet. The vaccine will be distributed to provinces and territories and rolled out by these public health units.
We will update you as we know more.
Have a wonderful week, everyone,
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.