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Answering your frequently asked questions from 3News' 'Facts Not Fear: Your Kids and COVID' town hall

Some of the area's top experts specializing in pediatric medicine and vaccinations joined us for a town hall on Thursday to give us answers to your questions.

CLEVELAND — With federal agencies having given final authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 this week, it was the perfect opportunity for us to assemble a panel of experts to answer your questions.

On Thursday, 3News brought together medical experts from Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, and Akron Children's Hospital for a one-hour, multi-platform town hall called "Facts Not Fear: Your Kids and COVID." 

The following medical professionals served on our panel:

  • Dr. Michael Bigham, Chief Quality Officer and pediatric critical care physician at Akron Children's Hospital.
  • Dr. Michael Forbes, Chair of Department of Pediatrics at Akron Children's Hospital
  • Dr. Kimberly Giuliano, Chair of Primary Pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic Children's.
  • Dr. Amy Edwards, Associate Medical Director, Pediatric Infection Control at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital

We sought to answer as many of your child vaccination questions as possible during the course of the hour. Here is a list of frequently asked questions we received, along with the answers directly from the experts:

Why is the COVID-19 vaccine determined by age and not weight? You can get the full answer from Dr. Edwards below: 

My child will be turning 12 soon. Should I get her the pediatric dose now or wait until she’s 12 and get her the adult-sized dose?  

"I'd recommend getting the vaccine as soon as you possibly have access to it," said Dr. Giuliano. "The longer we go unprotected, the greater our chance of infection would be. We are reassured that the effectiveness of the lower dose for the 11 year old is really high. Getting that lower dose today is probably going to provide just as much immunity as the higher dose would."

What are the side effects for vaccines in children?

"When children are having side effects of the Covid vaccine, that generally means their bodies are melting the immune response. That's what we want the vaccine to do," explained Dr. Bigham. "We're seeing arm pain, which happens with lots of vaccines and it's very short lived. We are seeing some with headaches, fevers, sometimes some muscle aches. What we do know is that when they did this study, they kept reducing the dose for these younger children. They wanted to get to the dose that had the robust immune response that we want, but had the least amount of side effects. That's how they landed on this dose for the 5 to 11 year olds."

How can we say the vaccine is safe if there's no long-term data?

"It turns out the vaccine does what it does," said Dr. Forbes. "Whatever effects happen from the vaccine happen fairly quickly within the first few weeks to maybe months. After that, it's gone. If you've noticed, we're all getting boosters these days because the effects of the vaccine wanes after a period of about six to nine months."

Are there long-term side effects that we need to worry about with the COVID-19 vaccine for children? Dr. Edwards has the answer in the below video.

When will the vaccine be available for children under 5? 

"Fingers crossed, we're hoping for late winter, sometime February or March of 2022," said Dr. Edwards, who added that this vaccine will be for those children ages 6 months to 5 years old.

You can watch our full town hall, "Facts Not Fear: Your Kids and COVID" in the player below: 

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