Experts urge parents to discuss COVID vaccine with their child’s caregiver

The next phase in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is underway, as children aged 5 to 11 are eligible to receive the vaccine and the doses are now administered to the last cohort.

Dr Sharon Nachman, head of the pediatric infectious disease division at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, encouraged parents to talk to their children’s caregiver about the vaccine.

“When your child is sick, who do you call? You call their health care provider and take their advice, ”she said in an interview on Monday. “Because they are the experts in your child’s medical care and you trust them to do it. Listening to what’s going on on social media is doing you and your child a disservice.

The United States Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 earlier this month, opening eligibility at around 1, 5 million New York children.

Suffolk County Director Steve Bellone on Tuesday announced the opening of a vaccination clinic in the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge, which will be exclusively for children between the ages of 5 and 17. Children aged 12 to 17 were already eligible for the vaccine. Vaccines will be free at the site, he said.

“I know some parents may have concerns about vaccinating their children,” Bellone said during a media event with County Health Commissioner Dr Gregson Pigott and Deputy Commissioner for Health. health, Dr Shaheda Iftikhar. “I am the father of three children; two of them are vaccinated. But one of them hasn’t been eligible so far – my son Michael.

He said his son will receive the vaccine soon and noted that his 80-year-old mother will get an extra layer of protection when she is with her grandson.

Mr. Bellone also encouraged parents to talk to their child’s health care provider about the vaccine.

Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead has announced that COVID-19 vaccination appointments for children ages 5 to 11 are available at the Robert Entenmann campus at 4 West Main St. on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. . Appointments can be made by visiting

Dr Nachman said the setting in which a child receives the vaccine depends on where they feel most comfortable. She said distribution was underway to local pharmacies like CVS which administer doses to adults as well as pods such as the site run by Hauppauge County.

“If their child needs that calm from the medical provider’s office, this may be an option to look forward to,” she said. “If their kid is totally okay with lining up with 100 other kids, then the Pod is really good for them.

“There are options for different children and we should take advantage of those different options. “

Childhood vaccines are common, and most children start receiving vaccines for different diseases right after birth and continue until they are 18, according to the CDC.

Dr Nachman estimated that it would take a few weeks before the distribution of the COVID vaccine was widespread and fully available.

She said Stony Brook Children’s Hospital continues to see young patients with COVID, while the numbers are lower than adults.

“Each of these children represented another opportunity that was missed,” she said.

It has been almost a year since the first vaccine was made available to adults last December. Dr Nachman said the delayed availability for children was part of a decision by drug companies to complete and analyze data for adults first, then older children before starting younger ones.

” It’s not like that [clinical] the trials opened a year ago and no one signed up, but they only opened in late spring, early summer and registered incredibly quickly, ”she said. declared.

She said many parents were anxious and wanted their children to be enrolled in a trial, knowing that even if the child was given a placebo the biggest effect would mean vaccines available sooner.

Typically, in a clinical trial for children, the fact that there are no cases in the environment means that it takes longer to get results, she said.

“We had an active pathogenic virus that was always happening and happening all the time in schools,” she said, which helped speed up the process.

Side effects from the vaccine can be similar, but a little different from what adults experience, Dr. Nachman said. Similar side effects can be seen, such as fatigue and fever. But it’s different in that children between the ages of 5 and 11 have lower rates of side effects, even compared to older children.

Dr Nachman said vaccination rates for the older age group still have some way to go, but have improved since starting school.

“Most families appreciated that in order for their children to be safe, not only in school, but in extracurricular activities and competitions, they wanted their child to be immunized,” she said.

The most recent data from the state’s health department shows that 57.6% of children between the ages of 12 and 15 are fully immunized. The number climbs to 66% for 16-25 year olds. In Suffolk County, 48.3% of children aged 12 to 15 are fully immunized and 69.3% of those aged 16 to 25.

Looking ahead, Dr Nachman said she was not sure drug companies would further divide the eligibility of younger children who are not yet eligible into two additional groups or stick to just one. She said 6 months would be the youngest a child could get a COVID vaccine.

Dr Nachman said she thinks schools do a great job of messaging about vaccines.

Local districts have yet to receive guidance from the state regarding the latest vaccine eligibility. Southold School District Superintendent Anthony Mauro said the district is in the process of creating a parent resource page on the district’s website for information not only limited to COVID-19, so it’s easier to find.

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