Hospitals Weigh in on COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization for Young Kids

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Photo Credit: Texas Children's Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital has a history of leading equitable vaccinations across the pediatric population. The hospital joined Baylor College of Medicine nearly 20 years ago to form the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and develop vaccines that prevent neglected and emerging infections. The center has advanced new vaccines from discovery to clinical trial, with more than 800 active clinical trials serving diverse pediatric patient populations.

Texas Children’s is among the children’s hospitals nationwide leading efforts to vaccinate all children against COVID-19. Currently, the hospital is participating in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials for children ages 6 months to 11 years. Texas Children’s leaders believe that the delta variant surge underscores the importance of completing these trials and safely vaccinating those under 12 as soon as possible.

James Versalovic, M.D., pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s, estimates that at least 1,500 children have been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 so far. He knows the importance of getting kids vaccinated as quickly as possible and remains optimistic about the vaccine's safety and effectiveness.

"Parents need to understand the urgency of vaccination because the pandemic is not over," said Versalovic, when talking with a global news outlet. “No age group has been spared. … We are fully confident in the pediatric COVID vaccines.”

When Tiffany Kimbrough, M.D., a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and a mother of two young children, was asked about the results from COVID-19 vaccine pediatric clinical trials, she underscored the vaccine’s safety. Kimbrough participated in a VCU Health online Q&A session and said, “The children’s immune responses to [the smaller] doses were comparable to the responses seen in people ages 12 and older with the larger doses. ... Pfizer confirmed that side effects were similar to those observed in individuals ages 16-25 — generally mild and short lived.”

Pediatricians at Advocate Children’s Hospital in the Chicagoland area are encouraging parents to consider getting their child not only the COVID-19 vaccine but also the flu vaccine — at the same time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no need to wait a period of time between vaccinations. Data has shown that the side effects of vaccines — as well as the way our bodies develop antibodies for each vaccine — are generally the same when administered alone or simultaneously.

Yet one of the barriers for both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines is misinformation.

Frank Belmonte, D.O., co-chief medical officer and chair of pediatrics at Advocate Children’s Hospital, sat down with a reporter from Chicago’s NBC-TV news affiliate to discuss misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines that has dangerously spread throughout the community. The number one myth Belmonte is hearing: Vaccines were rushed and may not be safe for children.

“It’s simply not true,” declared Belmonte. “The mRNA technology has been around for over a decade. ... We have lots of data to show the safety profile, and now over a billion people have received the vaccine worldwide. We know it is a safe vaccine.”

Here are more reasons to encourage COVID-19 vaccines for kids from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

  • More than 6 million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19, as of late October 2021, including more than 1.1 million in the six weeks from mid-September to end of October.
  • More than 600 children have died from COVID-19, as of late October 2021, 158 of whom have been between the ages of 5 and 11.
  • More than 5,000 children have developed a severe multisystem inflammatory condition known as MIS-C following a COVID-19 diagnosis, which can have debilitating physical effects.