COVID vaccinations and children: 11 Myths

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You may find it difficult to sort through all of the information you’ve heard as you consider getting your children vaccinated against COVID-19.

Benefits vs. side effects. Children are at danger from COVID. On social media, there are rumours, rumours, and more rumours.

It’s also difficult to tell the difference between facts and lies. With children aged 12 and up eligible for the vaccine and approval set to be extended to younger children in the near future, parents may have legitimate worries as they assess their options.

“Ultimately, parents want to do what is best for their child, and there is reasonable fear of causing them harm,” said Elizabeth Lloyd, M.D., a paediatric infectious disease expert at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“We recognise that there is a lot of misinformation out there, and we want to assist families in answering any questions that may make them hesitant to vaccinate their children against COVID. We recommend parents to speak with their child’s paediatrician about their concerns.”

Lloyd answers frequently asked questions about the COVID vaccine and children in this video.

Concern: Will my teen’s heart be affected by the COVID-19 vaccine?
Truth: It will have no influence on the hearts of more than 99 percent of children. However, health officials are keeping an eye on a very uncommon case of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, following the immunisation. The symptoms of this hypothesised immunological reaction are usually modest, can be managed with ibuprofen, and go away in a few days.

However, Lloyd points out that infection with COVID itself poses a bigger risk of myocarditis than the vaccine.

“The risk of heart inflammation following immunisation is quite low, and the symptoms are usually transient.” However, if you’re concerned about this danger, keep in mind that COVID-19 infection causes myocarditis at considerably greater rates than the vaccine, according to Lloyd. “Getting vaccinated against COVID-associated myocarditis truly protects you.”

Vaccine-associated myocarditis can affect people of any age or gender, however it is more common in men aged 12 to 29. More on myocarditis and COVID, as well as specific issues for infants with congenital heart defects.

Concern: Will my child’s fertility be affected by the COVID-19 vaccine?
Truth: This is a false rumour that is still circulating on social media.

Antibodies created by COVID-19 vaccination have been shown in studies to have no effect on embryo implantation, early pregnancy development, or male fertility. There have also been multiple recorded incidents of women becoming pregnant while participating in vaccine research trials or afterward.

The erroneous claim appears to be based on a notion that the vaccine will train the body to fight a protein found in the placenta, while the vaccine instead teaches the body to attack a completely different and unique protein (the spike protein on the virus that causes COVID).

The vaccine is especially crucial for women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are receiving reproductive treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women with symptomatic COVID have a 70 percent greater risk of death and are twice as likely to require intensive care. They’re also at a higher risk of having an unfavourable pregnancy outcome, such as preterm birth, stillbirth, or admission to the intensive care unit with a newborn who is also infected with COVID-19.

Vaccine antibodies can protect newborns through the placenta and breastfeeding, according to new research.

“Vaccine apprehension among reproductive-aged women is troubling, because it is a result of misinformation shared on social media,” Lloyd said. “However, there is no biological link between the vaccine and male, female, or child fertility.”

“We now have a lot of evidence indicating that after getting vaccinated, women have good pregnancies.”

Is it possible that the COVID-19 vaccination was created too quickly for children?
Truth: First and foremost, it’s critical to recognise that the research that went into generating the COVID-19 vaccine, like the coronavirus itself, isn’t “fresh new.”

There are four varieties of endemic coronaviruses that circulate in the community and frequently cause mild cold symptoms. The original severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002 (closely related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 were both more aggressive coronaviruses that had the potential to cause deaths and trigger pandemics.

As a result of these experiences, coronavirus vaccine development was well along before COVID-19 struck. However, because COVID resulted in a global pandemic, agencies were able to act faster than usual.

“Being in a state of emergency has resulted in greater collaboration and information sharing than ever before, allowing us to build on more than a decade of coronavirus vaccine research and accelerate the vaccine development process,” Lloyd said.

“It’s critical to note that no stages were skipped at any point. These vaccinations were subjected to rigorous testing and safety monitoring.”

Pre-clinical studies, clinical trials, a review by the Federal Drug Administration that double-checks trial data, an additional triple-check review by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, as well as post-approval research that monitors and tracks study participants months to years after vaccination were all part of the approved COVID vaccines’ development process.

“We were fortunate in that we didn’t have to start from scratch and that we had a good foundation of coronavirus research to enable us accelerate through the preclinical stage of COVID vaccine research,” Lloyd said. “Failure to trust these vaccines should not be based on their speed.”

After months of strong data confirming the vaccination was safe and efficacious in older age groups, clinical trials for children began. Pfizer and Moderna both started their clinical research for children under the age of 12 in March 2021, and any unusual adverse responses are reported and evaluated right away, according to Lloyd.

Concern: Will my child’s DNA be affected by the COVID-19 vaccine?
No, it’s not true. The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna contain mRNA, a type of genetic material that tells the body to make the COVID-19 spike protein, which the immune system then recognises as foreign. This procedure educates the immune system how to combat the coronavirus in the future if it is encountered. According to Lloyd, mRNA stays in the cell’s outer layer and never penetrates the nucleus, where our DNA is housed, and does not change or interact with DNA in any way.

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“The vaccination is essentially a boot camp for our bodies to learn how to fight this sickness properly.” “Our body makes copies of the spike protein on the coronavirus using the cell’s machinery so that when the immune system sees this protein in the future, it will recognise and destroy it,” Lloyd explained.

“It degrades in a couple of days after the body uses it to produce proteins.” It doesn’t linger in your system.”

Concern: Will the COVID-19 vaccination have long-term adverse effects?
Truth: Severe vaccine side effects are exceedingly rare, but scientifically, there is no reason to expect any side effects to appear more than six to eight weeks after vaccination, according to Lloyd.

And this has been shown over time, dating back to the 1960s with the oral polio vaccine, with new vaccination adverse effects always showing within two months.

“We know from experience with all previous vaccines that if you have a reaction, it will most likely manifest days or weeks after the dose,” Lloyd said. “Vaccines have a robust body of research and data that provides us confidence in their long-term safety,” says the author.