More than 6.9 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic began in March, 2020. Already at a high number of cases, a further increase is on the horizon now that schools are back in session and the Omicron variant has arrived.
As of this writing, the number of Covid-19 pediatric patients is above 100,000 for the sixteenth week in a row, and the increase from the first week of September till the second week of November has been 1.85 million cases.
According to the latest report formulated by the American Academy of Pediatrics (A.A.P.), children account for 24.6% of the total cases reported weekly. Children represent 17% of total cumulated cases since the pandemic began in the U.S. and infections are expected to rise significantly now because kids are back in school and engaging in social activities.
While adults stepping out for work and recreation might be instrumental in bringing the virus home to their young children, the reopening of schools, daycares, and other child care facilities accounts for the significant increase in pediatric cases of Covid-19. Data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that children’s hospitals and healthcare facilities are becoming strained with the incremental increase in Covid-19 cases among children.
CDC and hospitals are approving vaccinations for children aged 5-11
The CDC has approved a pediatric formulation of the Covid-19 vaccines for immunization of children aged 5 to 11, and CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., has recommended that children between the ages of 5 and 11 be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine.
That CDC recommendation extends to 28 million children in the United States. It has authorized licensed healthcare facilities, clinics, and hospitals to administer vaccinations. Numerous vaccination camps and walk-in vaccination drives are also set up for children and adults, including at local pharmacies and even in some schools.
The spread of Covid-19 through mutated strains of the virus, including the Omicron variant, is expected to impact kids more than the last wave of the virus. Keeping the expected chances of hospitalizations, inflammatory syndromes, deaths, and long-term complications in mind, the CDC and many more authorities are encouraging parents to get their children as soon as possible.
Throughout the summer of 2021, the Delta variant was active in infecting kids. Unvaccinated adults often came down with a severe infection, and the overwhelming increase in Covid-19 cases meant that often the news media focused on how the Delta variant was impacting that population. Children also suffered from the virus, but with a smaller population in the infected demographic, it was relatively easier for hospitals to handle them. With the alarming increase in the number of cases now, the best option is to secure kids through vaccination rather than risking their exposure to the virus.
Covid-19 vaccines for children and adolescents are proven to be effective and to protect children from Covid-19 by improving their immune system and training it to defeat the virus. They also prevent severe illness and prevent most hospitalizations in adults when there are breakthrough cases among the vaccinated. The CDC assists parents and guardians with a comprehensive list of preventative measures families can take and with information about the vaccine to help parents safeguard their children’s health.
Side Effects of the Covid-19 vaccine for Kids
Similar to observations of the impact of Covid-19 vaccines for adults, the pediatric vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech are 91% effective in preventing Covid-19 among children between 5 and 11 years of age and children and young adults from age 12 older. In some cases, the vaccine did have side effects, but they were mild and limited, similar to the side effects noticed in other pediatric vaccines. The only confirmed side-effect is a sore arm that recovers completely within a few days from the vaccination day.
Covid-19 vaccines have been subjected to the most intense safety monitoring that has ever happened in the history of the United States.
If an individual who has been vaccinated gets infected, they show better recovery and have milder symptoms than persons who have not received a vaccination. Pediatric Covid-19 vaccines also largely completely prevent children from acquiring long-haul Covid-19, one of the long-term consequences of the virus, that affects the nervous system, the brain, and causes extreme fatigue. Vaccination can also help prevent Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS), a serious and at times deadly complication among children that results from infection by Covid-19.
Moreover, vaccinating kids will reduce community transmission and build a safe space for children below five years of age who are vulnerable to the virus but cannot yet get vaccinated.
Health experts on advice for child vaccines
The simplest way to understand the importance of getting vaccinated is that your child has more chances of getting hurt by this vaccine-preventable disease than the vaccine itself. The pediatric Covid-19 vaccines have undergone rigorous safety tests and clinical trials before getting the green light for administration across kids.
The results from all trials of the Covid-19 pediatric vaccine have shown positive results in terms of effectiveness and safety. The University of California also released a statement on November 4th supporting the CDC’s stance promoting the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
Numerous health experts from the US healthcare system, including Dean Blumberg, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, have signed the statement issued by the University of California supporting vaccinations for children.
How does cold storage affect vaccine storage?
Cold storage is the most crucial element in storing these vaccines. Covid-19 vaccines are extremely sensitive to temperature, pressure, and humidity changes. Pediatric Covid-19 vaccine vials require specific temperatures for storage of up to six months or refrigeration for ten weeks, to be checked regularly.
Cold storage ensures that the vaccine is stored at the right temperature to sustain its potency. To add to the efficiency and accuracy of cold storage, pharmacies, hospitals, and other concerned healthcare units use automated data loggers, as shared by Dickson. These devices allow real-time temperature monitoring and can ensure that the vaccine’s temperature needs are being met every hour they are stored and for every moment they are being readied for administration.
Data loggers used for Covid-19 vaccine cold storages have memory chips that are used to retrieve the history of the storage space to ensure the correct temperature range throughout the storage duration. Once the vaccines are manufactured, the cold storage chain secures the maintenance of these vaccines. From transportation to storage to administration, correct temperatures in their cold storage environments are a critical component of Covid-19 vaccines.
Vaccines are safe and effective for children who qualify
Covid-19 vaccines are entirely safe for children who are eligible for vaccination. Before taking your child to get vaccinated, it is advised to consult a pediatrician and discuss any allergies, underlying diseases, or health issues that your child might be facing.
Another point to remember is the gap between the two doses of the vaccine, which is 21 days. The gap has been spaced for this many days for optimal effectiveness of the vaccine. For children who have recently been infected, it is essential that they be allowed to recover and complete the doctor-recommended isolation period before being vaccinated–and they should be vaccinated. Studies have shown that the antibodies to Covid-19 created through vaccination are as and often more effective and of longer duration than those created through illness.
As the cases in children increase and grow even further, healthcare facilities are urging parents to get their children vaccinated before there is a sudden upsurge in the spread of the virus.
Covid-19 vaccines for kids have been tested across different locations and age groups. After assessing the results and ensuring safety, the Centers for Disease Control, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other government and healthcare organizations in the US, urge swift uptake of these vaccines among children. They are entirely safe for your child and are a necessary protective layer against the virus that has devastated millions of families over the past two years.
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