The trials of the new vaccines have shown success and no serious side effects. But trials among children are just getting underway. The reason children were not in the first trials was to ensure the vaccines would work first among those most seriously affected.
It will likely mean a longer wait before children will be getting the vaccines.
“In terms of rolling it out to larger populations of children, we’re several months away from that,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado and professor of pediatrics at CU Anschutz.
Pediatrician Dr. Michael Milobsky is already talking a lot with families about the COVID-19 vaccine. There are some questions surrounding the vaccine and how it may impact children.
“There’s going to be a lot of hesitation, there’s going to be a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the vaccine that we’re going to be having push back on and explain,” said Milobsky.
One after another, the questions come from parents.
“She had that false idea that somehow this vaccine was somehow rushed, in a way where corners were cut, where proper procedure wasn’t done in order to get this vaccine to market and that is not the case.”
In addition, children being less at risk of serious disease will likely put them further down in the vaccination priority list. But there’s good reason for vaccinating children says Dr. O’Leary.
“It’s not really fair to say this virus doesn’t effect children because I can tell you here at Children’s Hospital, we take care of lots of sick children with this virus.”
As a society, we vaccinate children already for other diseases that impact children less than older people. Dr. Milobsky noted that rubella likely will not make children very ill.
“Rubella, if you’re a kid and you get it, is a nothing illness. Why do we have a vaccine for this? Well if a pregnant mom got rubella and didn’t know it, it would permanently cripple and disable that baby.”
Parents should ask for information from the people they trust says Milobsky, “The physicians in your life that you’ve entrusted your health with and the health of your children with, really do have your best… interests at heart.”
There is already misinformation spreading on the internet and social media about the MRNA vaccines coming into use. Dr. O’Leary points out that while they are a new generation of vaccine, the research behind them goes back decades. The vaccine is providing a directive that will lead to a reaction to attack the spike protein the virus uses to infect cells.
“It’s giving our body instructions for how to make this spike protein, our cells make the spike protein, our cells say, ‘Oh, that looks funny, let’s deal with it’ and then that produces the immune response.”
What it doesn’t do, is mess with our genetics, “For some people its generated, ‘Oh my gosh it’s going to get into our genome,’ but it really, it can’t do that.”
So far the vaccines are not causing significant concern.
“There have been some local reactions and some fevers in some participants, that kind of thing. That’s not unexpected in vaccine trials. We aren’t seeing any safety concerns.”
But more will be known with trials says O’Leary.
At Dr. Milobsky’s practice, he’ll watch all of it and intends to get the vaccine himself without hesitation. He believes there will be a great deal of data by the time children get vaccinations.
“We’re going to have way more information about it before it gets to the wider public anyway, so that will only boost the confidence, in everybody, for using the vaccine when it becomes available.”