Disclaimer :: This content was paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Fort Worth Moms (FWM) and City Mom Collective partnered with HHS to provide fact-based information about the COVID-19 vaccine so area parents can make informed decisions for their families. To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, visit vaccines.gov; text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the vaccine.
Many questions still surround the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly when it comes to administering it to children. Fort Worth Moms set out to find answers, and we polled many, many local parents to find out their questions and concerns. Drs. Bryan Youree and Ramon Kinloch sat down with FWM CEO Emily Youree (yes, she is Dr. Youree’s wife) to explain the facts about COVID vaccination. Dr. Youree is an infectious disease specialist at Texas Centers for Infectious Disease Associates. Dr. Kinloch is a pediatrician at Cook Children’s Pediatrics in Forest Park.
The following is a transcript of their conversation. If you would like to watch the video and skip the reading, simply scroll to the end of the article.
Emily: Hi everyone, it is Emily from Fort Worth Moms. And I am very excited to be joined today by two local experts as we talk about COVID-19 vaccines and our kiddos. I am joined today by Dr. Bryan Youree, who is a local infectious disease physician. And I have notes. So if you see me looking down, that’s what I’m doing. I’m making sure I get this right, with Texas Centers for Infectious Disease Associates. And I am also joined today by Ramon L. Kinloch, M.D., He’s a pediatrician at Cook Children’s at Forest Park.
Thank you very much, both of you for taking time out of your very busy days to chat with us about questions regarding COVID vaccine in kids. We actually recently put some feelers out to our readership asking what questions as moms and dads have about the COVID vaccine for this pediatric population. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions. These experts have agreed to chat with us today and answer some of the most common questions.
I also want to say before we get started that this video is recorded in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We are so thankful for its support as we dig into these questions about the COVID vaccine for children.
We have the four or five most common questions that were asked, and we’re just going to work our way through those. The very first one is — and even as a mom, and within my own friend circles and leading Fort Worth Moms, this comes up a lot — how safe and effective are COVID vaccines for kids?
Dr. Kinloch: Again, thanks for having us on here. That is an excellent question. So in terms of the safety, I believe that the COVID vaccine for children is safe. Before they even get to the general public, [the vaccines] go through intensive clinical trials involving thousands of kids from all different demographics. And then they have to present those findings to the [Food and Drug Administration] in order to get approval. So [the vaccine] doesn’t even make it to that process if they weren’t deemed safe. So the safety is there, it’s been proven. It’s been shown.
Safety doesn’t mean that there are no side effects. However, those side effects are minimal compared to the risk of contracting the illness. So the safety profile has been proven.
So I would encourage all of my families and those families out there to go ahead and still have your child vaccinated.
Emily: Okay, next question is, and this is a common one: Can children get natural immunity against COVID instead of that provided by the vaccine itself?
Dr. Youree: Well, we do know both in children and adults that you do get immunity from natural infection with COVID-19. Unlike SARS, which those individuals still had detectable antibodies up to 20 years after surviving infection with the original SARS in 2000-2001, we do see that immunity wanes fairly quickly after natural COVID-19 infection, and that vaccines provide a stronger, longer immune response than natural infection. And so, in states or communities that had much lower vaccination rates, the rate of hospitalization for children in particular are much higher and compared to communities where the infection or the vaccination rate was much higher.
We also know, as we went through subsequent waves of COVID, within the adult population those that fared best were those that have what we call “hybrid immunity,” or they may have had COVID early on and they were vaccinated. The next group that had the best protection from future waves were those that were vaccinated, and people that were least protected for recurrent infection, severe illness and hospitalization were those that either had not been infected, or had had COVID Very early on, but then got reinfected with the subsequent variant.
Emily: Should we be concerned about COVID vaccine side effects for kids, including the risk of myocarditis?
Dr. Kinloch: Another excellent question. As far as the risks of side effects for children, we don’t need to be any more concerned than what we have been for the adult population who’s received the vaccine. The side effects are pretty well known: fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, and those symptoms are generally lasting only for hours or a couple of days at best, and then you return to your normal life.
As far as the myocarditis, that one is certainly concerning. There’s still a lot of information that needs to be discovered. And there’s really has not been a causation link that has been found from the vaccine to myocarditis, but data does show that the age group that may be more susceptible — and this is really after the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — in the older age groups, that the risk of myocarditis might be higher than it is in the five to 11 year old age group, and particularly males. Again the reasons are still very unclear, but the fact that myocarditis is happening is still very rare. And I believe it was, the analogy that that was given to me was about one or two people in a stadium full of 50,000 people would get myocarditis. That rate may even occur without COVID vaccine — it can occur with just a general virus outside of COVID.
So again, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks.
Dr. Youree: There was also a data that came out from the delta wave that the incidence of myocarditis with natural infection was much higher than the incidence of myocarditis from vaccination.
Emily: The next question that I want to ask is: What is the current position on regular annual COVID vaccines? And will it be similar to the flu shot, kind of what we expect now with yearly flu shots?
Dr. Youree: There is no specific guidance about that at this time. I think a lot of it will be determined on if there are future variants that come out, which we expect that they probably will. Some of the companies that are making the vaccines are looking at combinations to coronavirus vaccinations.
And because we know that you don’t necessarily get lifetime immunity from natural infection, which if you think historically the common cold is caused by coronavirus is those who can get over and over again. So, it is possible until we see that the incidence stop or is significantly less, that there may be in the next couple of years guidance on yearly vaccination, particularly in high-risk populations. But there’s no strict recommendations at this time. But we may hear more before the fall as to whether that may be a recommendation again in the next year or two.
Emily: Okay, last last question. We’ll wrap it up. How well are children ages five to 11 handling the vaccine? And then will this group need boosters, you know, because they were kind of the last group to be eligible. So Dr. Kinloch, as a pediatrician, what are you seeing there?
Dr. Kinloch: Well, the first thing in terms of handling the vaccine, the response to the vaccine, [kids] are doing very well. I know that if there was more serious side effects happening than what we expect or anticipate, that we would be inundated with a lot of phone calls from concerned parents. We have not received that. So I’m confident that they are handling it well outside of your typical screaming and crying because they have to get a vaccine. They’re doing well.
Emily: Great. That’s excellent to know.
That concludes the questions that we had pulled from all the questions submitted. So again, thank you to our readership, for submitting questions. And thank you very much, Dr. Kinloch and Dr. Youree, for taking time from your day to answer these questions and to be a resource for parents here in North Texas.
We will be publishing a recap of this interview for everyone for reference on our website, and that will be coming shortly. So stay tuned for that. And thank you again. Have a great day.
Catch the full interview here: