Edie Palmer

Child Health, Coronavirus Updates, News | 5 months ago

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines for Children 6 Months Old and Up

Atrium Health Levine Children's is now offering COVID-19 vaccines for kids as young as 6 months old. Our experts provide guidance and helpful information for parents and guardians with young children.

COVID-19 vaccines are now available for our youngest population, including infants, toddlers and preschoolers at Atrium Health. This news follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for vaccines in children as young as 6 months old.

"COVID-19 is causing serious illness in children and we now have an opportunity to prevent a known risk in our youngest population," says Dr. Kevin Buckley, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Atrium Health Levine Children’s. “From everything we’ve seen, the vaccine is very safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 in this age group.”

On June 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized both Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and Moderna’s vaccine for this age group. The Pfizer offering is a three-dose series for children ages 6 months to 4 years old. The first two shots are given three weeks apart and the third shot is at least two months after the second dose. Each dose is one-tenth of the adult dosage. The Moderna vaccine consists of two doses administered four weeks apart. It’s for children ages 6 months to 5 years old. Each dose of this vaccine is one-fourth of the adult dosage.

Levine Children’s will begin providing the Pfizer vaccine to our youngest patients and plans to add Moderna in the weeks to follow. Eventually, Levine Children’s will offer COVID-19 vaccines at all pediatric primary care offices for all ages above 6 months.

Many parents and guardians are eager to get their young children vaccinated, including Lindsey Palmer, mother of Edie Palmer, pictured below. “I literally cried tears of joy when I found out my daughter could get vaccinated.”

Atrium Health is now offering COVID-19 vaccines for kids as young as 6 months old. Our experts provide guidance and helpful information for parents and guardians with young children.

Edie was the first Levine Children’s patient under 5 years old to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

At just 2-years-old, she didn’t shed a tear as she got vaccinated at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Charlotte Pediatrics in SouthPark. Edie gladly got a princess bandage and left all smiles with promises of fruit snacks and Sesame Street.

“She got her shot to freely play with her friends at the park and school,” says Lindsey. “It’s a huge relief.”

“We’re excited that we now have protection for this age range. We just ask for your patience as we’ve received a limited number of doses to slowly roll out,” says Dr. Rhonda Patt, assistant specialty medical director of pediatric primary care at Levine Children’s.

What We Know about COVID-19 Vaccines for This Age Group

“The first thing worth noting is the vaccines were always safe,” says Buckley. “The delay in the approval process was more centered around efficacy. Researchers took their time in collecting data to confirm the efficacy and then deciding on dose regimens for this young population.”

Some say the efficacy rates of these vaccines are around 70% to 80%, but our experts at Atrium Health would like to see more real-life data.

Another thing parents are asking about is whether it’s safe to couple this COVID-19 vaccine with other childhood vaccinations. The CDC says it’s safe, meaning vaccinations do not need to be spread out.

In addition, this age group is only yielding mild side effects, similar to other age groups. “However, many in this age group can’t verbalize how they feel,” says Buckley. “A fever after each dose is common, as it is with other childhood vaccines.”

Vaccine Recommendations for Kids Soon Turning Five Years Old

As a parent or guardian of a 4-year-old who will soon turn five, you might be wondering when and how to schedule your child’s COVID-19 vaccine. According to Patt, you have a couple of options.

First, if they’re receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the child could continue with the same vaccine series they started before their fifth birthday. This means if they happen to turn five in the middle of their vaccine series, it’s recommended the child finishes out the three-dose series.

Another option is to choose the Moderna vaccine for a 4-year-old child who is soon to be 5 years old. It’s approved for children ages 6 months through 5 years, meaning children who receive the Moderna vaccine would receive the same dose at 4 and 5 years old.

“Either of these options is safe and effective,” says Patt.

Pediatricians are not recommending that parents wait to start the series based on being nearly 5-years-old. “If parents want their children to be fully vaccinated by the start of the school year, now is the time to vaccinate this age group, especially if they’re getting Pfizer’s three-dose series,” says Patt.

Why All Eligible Children Should Get Vaccinated

You might be wondering if it’s important for your child to get vaccinated if they’ve already contracted COVID-19. And the recommendation is yes, as it is for every other eligible age group.

Reinfection is common in respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. The strength of a child’s immune response has to do with the severity of their case of COVID-19. If a child had a mild infection (which many do), they likely had a lower viral dose and broad protection is less likely. This means we can’t be certain what will happen if the child contracts the virus again.

“We’ve seen fewer long-lasting issues and lower death rates in children than we’ve seen in adults,” says Buckley. “However, some children who are previously healthy without risk factors can become critically ill.”

Children can also spread infection. Even if your child has a mild case of COVID-19, they can pass it to someone who might become seriously ill. It’s vital to get children vaccinated to help us get closer to herd immunity.

“Getting your child vaccinated is their best line of defense and protection against COVID-19,” says Patt.

How to Schedule

COVID-19 vaccines for this age group as well as older kids are available at pediatric primary care offices across Atrium Health in the Charlotte area, allowing children to receive their vaccine in the comfort of their trusted provider’s office. 

Appointments are available via MyAtriumHealth and AtriumHealth.org/COVID19vaccine.

If you have additional questions about COVID-19 vaccines for your young child, talk with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can help navigate this information and partner with you to make the best decision for your child.