Riley doctor stresses importance of kids getting COVID vaccine | ICIN

On Friday, Riley had 13 kids in the hospital due to COVID-19. Of those, two were on a ventilator and five were in the ICU.

INDIANAPOLIS — Many families were ready right on Wednesday Nov. 3 to get their 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated, but not everybody’s ready to have their kids roll up their sleeves. A question from a grandmother led us to turn to the experts at Riley Hospital for Children to answer her and other questions.

The grandmother has an 11-year-old grandchild with a birthday coming up. Via email, Pam from Westfield asked, “Should she get the child’s dose for the first shot and the adult dose for the second shot? Should she wait until after her birthday and get adult doses for both shots?”

13News took the question to Dr. John Christenson. He’s the medical director of infection prevention at Riley Hospital for Children.

He said waiting is not necessary. If a kid gets the child dosage for the first shot, they’ll also get it for the second, even if they turn 12 in between. 

“What I tell parents and grandparents is not to wait,” he said. “To get whatever vaccine they can get.”

On Friday, Riley had 13 kids in the hospital due to COVID-19. Of those, two were on a ventilator and five were in the ICU, which is why the hospital is working on setting up a clinic to get more children vaccinated.

The hospital will provide pop-up vaccine clinics for kids 5-11 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. four Saturdays in November and December. The first is Nov. 13, with others to follow on Nov. 20, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11.

There is a difference between the shots. The new shot for children is one-third of the standard vaccine.

RELATED: No, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dosage is not the same for kids ages 5 to 11 as it is for adults

“When you look at side effects, it tends to have a little less side effects,” Christenson said of the children’s vaccine.

The CDC says the child dosage is solely based on age. Weight was not a factor. Christenson said the adult shot is OK, even if a child 12 or older is a bit underweight.

“So far, there hasn’t been any evidence that being a little bit lower weight has been a big problem.”

At this point, Christenson, the CDC and the FDA report the research shows this vaccine is safe for kids. While most do not get very sick, some do.

RELATED: Riley doctor discusses Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for kids age 5-11

Ellen, a grandmother of an Avon child asked, “Has the COVID child’s vaccine been verified for use on ADD children?”

Christenson said right now the research is not that group specific. 

“Now, looking at the millions of doses that have been given to individuals over 12 years of age, there hasn’t been shown to be any problems with those particular groups of people,” he said.

As for children who should not get vaccinated, Christenson said most should be OK to get the shot.

“The only absolute counter-indication for getting the vaccine would be that you’re allergic to one of the components of the vaccine,” he said.

But most of the ingredients, he said, aren’t typically ones that cause complications. A possible exception may relate to a child who recently had an organ transplant.

For children who cannot get vaccinated, he recommended parents try to surround them with people who are.

MORE: Riley doctor discusses Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for kids age 5-11

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