by Allen Ruan, MD
Pediatrician at Boulder Medical Center
COVID-19 was a top 10 leading cause of death in children ages 5 to 11 from October 2020 to October 2021.1 Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) authorized and recommended the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for the 5 to 11 age group. This is the latest development in the herculean effort to tame the global pandemic, so what does this mean for your family?
First, it means the vaccine is effective. For over a year and a half, parents have tried to prepare for when, not if, our children get the virus. How sick will they get? Who will stay home with them if they are well enough to isolate at home? Will they be able to get the care they need if they get seriously ill? Will my other children get COVID-19 from them? What about our immunocompromised or elderly family members? While we have been able to protect ourselves and our adolescent children with vaccinations, we have had to rely on masking and social distancing for our school-age children. Finally, this age group can also be vaccinated, with the data showing 90.7% effectiveness.2
Second, it means the vaccine is safe. Parents and pediatricians are united in our goal to minimize harm to our children. This means balancing the risks of the vaccine with the risks of COVID-19. After getting the vaccine, your child may feel a bit achy and under the weather, but these reactions are not dangerous. While there has been a small risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) in adolescents who received the vaccine (less than 0.002%3), the few cases have overwhelmingly resolved without complications. The cumulative harm of COVID-19 to our children and our communities far outweighs this risk.
What about this talk about infertility after the vaccine? Multiple studies have been conducted to investigate this rumor, and the conclusion has been a resounding “no”.4 There is also no evidence of any decrease in male or female fertility following the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is protective during pregnancy by preventing severe illness and passing on antibodies. Speaking of which, there is also no evidence for (or any biological mechanism to explain) the vaccine giving your child COVID-19, altering their DNA, causing magnetism or autism, or implanting microchips.
The COVID-19 vaccines were developed on the shoulders of giants. Over a decade of foundational research on MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and mRNA (messenger RNA) technology, were brought together by the tremendous efforts of researchers and scientists.5 The hundreds of millions of COVID-19 cases worldwide have allowed safety and efficacy data to be collected quickly. Today, our 5- to 11-year-old children can benefit from this unprecedented global effort.
So let me be very clear. Is this vaccine safe? Yes. Is this vaccine effective? Yes. Do I recommend this vaccine? Absolutely.
To find where your child can get a COVID-19 vaccine locally:
- Visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Vaccine webpage
- Keep up with vaccine developments at Boulder Medical Center on our COVID-19 Vaccine Update webpage.
About Allen Ruan, MD
Pediatrics at Boulder Medical Center
As a board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Allen Ruan provides the full range of care, including:
- Newborn and well-child preventive care
- Acute sick visits
- Chronic medical conditions such as asthma
- Dermatologic conditions such as acne and warts
- Mental health, including depression, anxiety, and ADHD