COVID-19 Vaccine

Children 6 Months — 5 Years Old Can Now Receive COVID-19 Vaccines!

Dr. Monica Brané

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics are officially recommending COVID-19 vaccines for children ages six months to five years old. 

We’ve been waiting for this announcement for a long time — so what does it mean for our littlest patients? Dr. Monica Brané, Bassett Healthcare Network’s Chief of Pediatrics, shares some of the most important things parents need to know about this important milestone in our fight against the pandemic.

10 Things Parents Need to Know

Key Takeaways from Dr. Brané

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for such young children?

"The vaccines are absolutely safe. As a mother and pediatrician, I recommend the COVID-19 vaccines wholeheartedly for children ages six months and older. Protecting our kids against COVID-19 infection is very important, and it’s also one of the most responsible things we can do for our communities as we continue to work together to fight this virus."

How soon can parents book appointments for their children’s COVID-19 vaccines at Bassett?

"Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s pediatric clinic to register on a call-back list. While we are unsure of the exact date that vaccine supply is slated to arrive locally, getting on a list will ensure your family is contacted as soon as it’s here."

Why did it take so long for CDC officials to give the go-ahead for younger children?

"Clinical trials to research the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in children take some time. Researchers put the vaccines through rigorous safety testing. Children are a unique population — their bodies are growing, as well as their immune systems. Clinicians need to make sure immunizations are in line with kids’ ages — dosages in studies are started at a very low level and are increased gently as researchers make sure they’re just right. The youngest children are also typically the very last age group of everyone to get approved for vaccines — it’s not unusual."

 

Boosters

A COVID-19 booster shot is given to people who have completed their vaccine series (two shots of Pfizer and Moderna, one shot of J&J), to give them added protection against the virus after their protection has decreased over time. For some vaccine manufacturers, the booster shot may be a lower dosage than the original shots received.

Bassett Healthcare Network's clinics are offering first and second booster shots of Pfizer and Moderna for eligible individuals.

1st Booster Doses

Patients who received a first dose series of Pfizer or Moderna may receive their first booster dose at least six months following the second dose of their initial COVID-19 vaccine series. 

Booster shots of Johnson & Johnson / Janssen (J&J) are also available for eligible patients 18 and older. Patients who received a J&J shot at least two months ago should receive a booster shot.

Booster Doses Now Available for Ages 5 — 12

We now have 1st booster doses available for children aged 5 — 12! Please call your child's pediatrician to schedule a booster appointment.

2nd Booster Doses

Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Recipients Aged 50 & Older

  • According to the FDA, a second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered to individuals 50 years of age and older at least 4 months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Recipients Aged 12 & Older with Certain Kinds of Immunocompromise

  • According to the FDA, a second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered to individuals 12 years of age and older with certain kinds of immunocompromise at least 4 months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
  • These are people who have undergone solid organ transplantation, or who are living with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Recipients Aged 18 & Older with Certain Kinds of Immunocompromise

  • According to the FDA, a second booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered at least 4 months after the first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 18 years of age and older with the same certain kinds of immunocompromise.

Patients may choose to receive any one of the three vaccines for their booster shot. Although some people may prefer to stick with the same manufacturer they received initially, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has released guidelines that say it's safe to mix and match for booster shots

If you or a loved one qualify for a booster vaccine dose right now, we can connect you with your Primary Care office to set up an appointment to speak with your practitioner. Call 1-800-BASSETT (227-7388).

Make an appointment with your provider in Primary Care, Pediatrics, or School-Based Health today! Need to get established at one of our clinics? Call 1-800-BASSETT (227-7388). Click here to find a health center near you. 

 

Third Doses

A third-dose (or additional dose) of the COVID-19 vaccine is given to people who have moderately or severely compromised immune systems, who need additional protection after completing their initial vaccine series to improve their immune response to the virus. For these people, three doses of Pfizer and Moderna are considered full vaccination. The exact dosage of this additional shot may vary among vaccine manufacturers.

Bassett Healthcare Network’s clinics are also offering third vaccine doses of Pfizer and Moderna. Right now, the CDC has authorized third doses only for patients with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. For these patients, three doses are considered full vaccination. 

This includes people who are:

  • Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Recipients of an organ transplant and are taking medication to suppress the immune system to prevent rejection 
  • Recipients of a stem cell transplant within the last two years and are on medication to suppress the immune system
  • Living with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Living with advanced or untreated HIV/AIDS
  • Receiving active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other medications that may suppress the immune system 

Ask your practitioner about whether getting a third COVID-19 vaccine dose is appropriate for you.

Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines

The FDA has fully authorized the use of Comirnaty (also known as Pfizer-BioNTech). Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J /Janssen) are under emergency authorization. 

Having the facts about these vaccines will help you and your family make informed decisions:

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

The NYSDOH and the CDC offer many great answers to frequently asked questions about the vaccines. Listed here are a few of the most commonly asked questions. For more information, please visit the CDC and NYSDOH FAQ pages:

Yes, each of the vaccines are safe and effective.

After a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized or approved for use by the FDA, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for adverse events (possible side effects). This ongoing monitoring can pick up on adverse events that may not have been seen in clinical trials. If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts quickly study it further to see if it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in US vaccine recommendations.

In NYS, an added level of review was established to ensure the safety of each. Following FDA approval, experts on NYS's independent COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Advisory Task Force thoroughly reviewed the vaccine research. On December 10, 2020, the Clinical Advisory Task Force unanimously recommended the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. On December 18, 2020, the Task Force unanimously recommended the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna. On March 1, 2021, the Task Force unanimously recommended the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.

On August 23, 2021, the FDA approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

No. None of the vaccines are made up of materials that can cause disease.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine use a small, harmless part of the virus’s genetic material called mRNA. This is not the virus. mRNA is a spike protein, and mRNA vaccines teach our bodies to create virus proteins. Our immune systems develop antibodies against these proteins to help us fight the virus that causes COVID-19, if we become exposed to it. This called an immune response.

The Johnson & Johnson (J&J / Janssen) vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. Rather than mRNA, it uses the harmless "adenovirus" as a vehicle to introduce the coronavirus's genetic material to your immune system. The adenovirus inserts the material into your cells to produce the distinctive coronavirus protein, much like the mRNA vaccines. This again creates the coronavirus protein to be shown to your immune system, triggering the immune response that teaches your body to create antibodies to help us fight the virus that causes COVID-19, if we become exposed to it.

As with any vaccine, you may experience some symptoms after receiving the shot. This is also an immune response, and is how we know the vaccine is working. The most common after-vaccination symptoms include a sore arm where you received the shot, headache, chills, fever, or fatigue. These symptoms shouldn't last for more than a day or two, and over-the-counter pain relievers / fever reducers may help.

Yes, you do.

The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19. While your exposure may have created some short-term antibody protection from COVID-19, the protection the vaccines offer has been proven to be longer lasting, and offers more protection against variants of COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is the best way to give your body the tools it needs to defend against the virus that causes COVID-19.

There are many factors that combined to allow the COVID-19 vaccines to be developed quickly and safely:

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is similar to other existing viruses, giving researchers a head start on developing a vaccine.
  • Research about the new virus was shared almost immediately with scientists all over the world, allowing vaccine work to begin right away.
  • Some researchers were able to run phase one and phase two trials at the same time.
  • The studies on COVID-19 included a larger amount of people than other recent vaccine trials, meaning there were a larger number of people in the trials over a shorter period of time.
  • The federal government allowed manufacturing of the most promising vaccines to begin while the studies were ongoing.

It’s important to note that all vaccine developers are required to go through each stage of the development process and meet all safety and efficacy standards. Learn about the many steps in the typical vaccine testing and approval process from the CDC.

Many vaccines, not just the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, require two doses in order to provide the most protection that the vaccine has to offer. Like other vaccines, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine starts building protection. A second dose, given a few weeks later, offers a greater level of protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Check the NYS online vaccine clinic finder tool frequently for updates, as well as your county's website, local pharmacy websites, and this webpage.

You may also choose to call the NYSDOH COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829) for assistance scheduling an appointment.

Proof of eligibility is required at all vaccination clinics. Visit the official website of NYS for a list of acceptable forms of proof of eligibility. This information can be found in the "Vaccination Instructions" section. Please note that according to the NYSDOH, if you are under the age of 18 and have scheduled a Pfizer vaccination appointment, a parent or legal guardian must provide consent for vaccination. A parent or legal guardian must provide verbal consent either in person, or by phone, at the time of vaccine appointment.

Yes, proof of eligibility is required at all vaccination clinics. Visit the official website of NYS for a list of acceptable forms of proof of eligibility. This information can be found in the "Vaccination Instructions" section. Please note that according to the NYSDOH, if you are under the age of 18 and have scheduled a Pfizer vaccination appointment, a parent or legal guardian must provide consent for vaccination. A parent or legal guardian must provide verbal consent either in person, or by phone, at the time of vaccine appointment.

It is still recommended to wear a mask around others while you are out in public, even if you are vaccinated. Many stores and places of business will have signs outside their building detailing their individual mask policy. These policies often change based on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the area, so it is always recommended to bring a mask with you when you are leaving your home, just in case.

If you'd like to help with the current research surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, there's a very easy way you can! After you've been given your first dose of the vaccine, register with CDC's v-safe to record any side effects you may experience. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that checks in on you after your COVID-19 vaccination. If you've been vaccinated in the last six weeks, you can participate in v-safe. Learn more about v-safe from the CDC.

Another way you can help is by becoming a vaccinator! If you're interested in becoming a vaccinator, visit the NYS vaccination training page to learn more.

Lastly, the best way you can continue to help stop the spread of COVID-19 is to continue to wear a mask, social distance, and practice good hand hygiene.