The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is here, as doses have arrived across Chicagoland.
At Swedish Hospital’s walk-in clinic Wednesday afternoon, the line stretched down the hall. For retired nurse and volunteer Kay Hengelmann, the scene brought back memories.
“It brought back memories of being in line with my mom getting the polio vaccine,” she said. “And the kids are excited and I’m happy for them.”
Dr. Bruce McNulty is the chief medical officer at Swedish.
“Many parents have been waiting for this day to help them get their kids protected,” he said.
Juniper Pratt came right after school and she’s looking forward to spending more time with friends after braving the shot.
“Mom isn’t letting me invite people over for sleepovers,” she said.
“We’ve been waiting so long for this day,” Juniper’s mother Amy Roth said. “It’s a little emotional and it’s wonderful to be here with people from our community. Swedish is such a wonderful hospital to let us walk right in.
Across town at Lurie Children’s, staff members unpacked supplies to go with the 3,000 doses they have in the freezer. The hospital will begin administering the vaccine on Friday morning. Parents or legal guardians can make appointments online.
The pediatric dose is one-third the amount of an adult dose. That’s based on the minimum amount necessary to produce a rapid and robust immune response. These vials, which are differentiated with orange caps, require ultra-cold storage but can be kept in a regular refrigerator for up to 10 weeks, making it easier for pediatrician’s offices and pharmacies to distribute them.
Like those 12 and older, younger kids will get two shots, three weeks apart.
Dr. Tina Tan is an infectious disease specialist at Lurie.
“If your child gets natural Covid disease, they are at higher risk for getting complications from that natural covid disease,” Tan said. “As opposed to getting vaccinated which will provide them protection against getting disease and provide protection to individuals in the household that can’t be vaccinated.”
There are still concerns about myocarditis – a rare but serious side effect that causes inflammation of the heart muscle. The CDC and FDA will be closely monitoring kids for any signs. Pfizer researchers did not track the condition in their younger pediatric clinical trial. But doctors say the risk of myocarditis is much greater if someone gets a Covid infection. It is very rare as a complication of vaccination.
In kids, there can be mild side effects including injection site pain, headache and fatigue, muscle aches, fever and chills – that last about a day or two after receiving the shot. If you want to relieve your child’s discomfort, you may give them Tylenol or ibuprofen.