With the state of Florida opening vaccine eligibility to those 12 and older for Pfizer and 18 and older for the Moderna vaccine, many families are wondering what that means for their child. Allison Messina, M.D., chair of the Division of Infectious Disease and medical director of Infection Prevention at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, answers common questions we’re hearing from families about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Are COVID-19 vaccines available for patients at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital?
After FDA authorization, the state decides how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine for those eligible. Our health system is actively monitoring and assessing all information on these vaccines and will provide information and updates to our patients and the public as quickly as we can on this page.
When will COVID-19 vaccines be available to kids and will it be safe?
While Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has received FDA authorization for children ages 12 and up, again, each individual state decides how to roll out the vaccine. Clinical trials researching the vaccines’ efficacy and safety are underway for children as young as 6 months old. However, experts believe a vaccine for children in those age groups may not be available until later in 2021.
Although it is rare for children to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, such serious cases do happen. Even a child with a mild case may spread the disease to others or experience the still-emerging long-term effects of COVID-19. Once safe and effective dosage levels for children are established, vaccinating children will help returning to school and activities safely, will help move toward herd immunity and reduce the likelihood of variants developing.
Does getting the vaccine mean you can’t spread COVID-19?
After two weeks following the second dose (for Moderna and Pfizer), the chances of a person getting symptomatic COVID-19 is reduced significantly. Less is known about how effective these vaccines are against asymptomatic disease or spread of disease, though some preliminary studies are optimistic. Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 illness. However, less is known about the effects of these vaccines on variant strains of COVID. Therefore, it is still recommended that people who have been vaccinated wear a mask and practice infection prevention precautions.
What can my family do to protect ourselves from COVID-19 while we wait for the vaccine to become available?
It’s still imperative that we all continue the following practices to prevent COVID-19:
- Wear a mask indoors when around people who don’t live in your home.
- Stay home if you are feeling ill.
- Physically distance from others outside your home when possible, staying 6 feet away.
- Avoid crowded places.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, drinking or touching your face.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
For more frequently asked questions about COVID-19, view this article and this infographic from Johns Hopkins Medicine.