SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use in kids ages 12 to 15 and now it just needs the final seal of approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the U.S. prepares for children to likely start getting vaccinated against the virus this week, parents naturally have a lot of questions and concerns.
Dr. Patrick Ramsey, a maternal fetal medicine expert at UT Health San Antonio and University Hospital, has worked closely with some vaccine trials and is offering parents crucial information and relief.
“Adolescents tend to not get very severe disease with COVID-19 or may not even have symptoms, but they are a reservoir for infection to be spread among the rest of the population. It’s equally important for them to get vaccinated,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey also said the smaller percentage of children who do have a reaction to COVID-19 can become severely sick.
“There is a very severe hyper immune response children can get that’s unpredictable, and if we can avoid that in any adolescents, I think its really critically important,” he said.
As parents consider the vaccine for their children, many are wondering whether the vaccine affects children with pre-existing conditions.
“Individuals who have diabetes, hypertension, medical issues like asthma, are more at risk for COVID complications, but should not be a contra-indication for receiving the vaccination. In fact, those patients are the most important ones to be vaccinated,” he said.
Other parents worry about medication interactions for things like ADHD, allergies or anxiety.
“We have not seen any concerns with medications that individuals are on,” Ramsey said. “This is an mRNA vaccine that creates a protein in our body that our body makes an immune response to. That really should have no interaction with medications.”
Ramsey said the only medications parents should ask pediatricians about are those that suppress the immune system. He said those medications shouldn’t necessarily cause side effects after the vaccine, but could potentially weaken its effectiveness.
Ramsey also brought up a myth circulating on social media, similar to one KSAT has debunked for adults, that the vaccine may affect long term and future fertility in young girls.
“We have not seen any concerns, whatsoever. We’ve seen people in the vaccine trials who have gotten pregnant, we’ve seen people get pregnant after the vaccines and we’ve seen no concerns in the adult population with ability to get pregnant and certainly that would apply to the adolescent population as well,” Ramsey said.
He encourages parents to keep bringing questions like this to medical professionals.
WATCH: University Health System Pediatrician Dr. Mandie Svatek talks on this video about how children have responded to the vaccine so far, her own daughter’s experience in a drug trial and when even younger children may become eligible for the shot. You can watch the video below: