University Health pediatrics specialist offers perspective on children and the COVID-19 vaccine

Mandie Svatek, pediatric hospitalist for University Health discusses the COVID-19 for children.

COVID-19 has not affected children as much as adults, but it has made some kids very sick, according to University Health.

Dr. Mandie Svatek, a pediatrics specialist with University Health, answered some commonly asked questions for parents.

When will COVID-19 vaccines be available for children?

“Currently, children 16 and older have the opportunity to vaccinate, and we encourage those parents to help get their children vaccinated in this age group – especially if they have health problems,” Svatek said. “While clinical trials have been available for children 12 and above in San Antonio, currently San Antonio is awaiting expansion to ages 6 months and beyond, which is occurring in other parts of the country. Pfizer is currently awaiting a response from the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) for EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) approval to 12 and above, which may be this summer. We do know that Pfizer and Moderna continue to be safe and effective and that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on pause for use due to blood clots found in six people out of the approximately 6.7 million that have received the J&J vaccine. We hope by early 2022, that there will be an opportunity to vaccinate most children.”

Are there any special safety concerns for children in regards to the vaccine?

“A child’s immune system is different from an adult’s, and therefore, their response to vaccines may be different, so it will be important to appreciate how effective the vaccine is, as well as to monitor for potential side effects that may differ from an adult’s,” Svatek said. “As children 16 and above have been receiving the Pfizer vaccine, we continue to find this vaccine is safe and effective. It is important to report any side effects to the (reporting system) so the CDC can continue to track. Pfizer and Moderna continue to show these vaccines are safe and effective in preventing hospitalization from COVID.”

Your own daughter participated in a vaccine trial. What was that like?

“My husband and I sat down and spoke with our daughter about the opportunity to be in a clinical trial to potentially get vaccinated,” Svatek said. “She was quick to say yes, as she had seen us be vaccinated, but this was something that we still discussed with her over the course of a couple of days. We reviewed the literature on Moderna as well as the clinical trial requirements, including testing, with her. As we all were assured, we agreed this was a good opportunity for her to be potentially vaccinated and to contribute to science with the potential to move (to) vaccinating children sooner than later.”

For kids going back to school, will the COVID-19 vaccine be required?

“Currently, the COVID vaccines are available for EUA only,” Svatek said. “If and when they are approved for regular use by the FDA, it will be up to several teams, including the city, school district and recommendations from the CDC and AAP on if this will be a requirement somewhere down the road.”

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines from University Health, click or tap here.