Nurse Hailey Jagarval was holding a rubber demo baby, which she named Mitchum, as she helped MUSC Health staff prepare for the moment they – and many families – were waiting for. “We make Pfizer. This will be a series of three doses. The staff will be at intervals of about a month, “she said.
It was a de facto training session, which for many is the cornerstone of the coronavirus pandemic. A year and a half after the first cases of COVID appeared in the United States, children as young as 6 months of age can now be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Public health officials are distributing vaccines this week to health care providers across the state. MUSC Health-Lancaster has already received little. MUSC Health-Charleston expects its doses to arrive on June 21. Other MUSC Health sites are about to receive vaccines for young children this week as well.
“I’m actually excited that they’re open for younger children to come in. I think it will be busy when they start coming, “said Melissa Rose, a licensed practical nurse who attends the training. “We heard feedback from parents coming. Some are excited because they are ready to travel. Their middle-aged children are ready to go and be vaccinated, but not their babies. They are trying to do everything possible to protect their little ones. “
This protection, in the form of a vaccine, will be a lower dose for children aged 6 months to 4 years than the dose given to children aged five and over. And that’s not the only difference.
Jaggerwal, a nurse who facilitates the training of clinical staff on new vaccine administrations, said that because babies’ and young children’s legs have more muscle than their arms, this is where most of them will receive the vaccines. There will be exceptions for older children whose parents want a shot in the arm.
Doctors at MUSC Children’s Health said the vaccines were coming at the right time. “You’ve probably heard that since the beginning of April, cases have increased among the pediatric and elderly population across the country, in the region, and in South Carolina in particular,” said Elizabeth Mack, MD, a critical care pediatrician.
Andrew Atz, MD, chairman of pediatrics at the Medical College of the University of South Carolina Medical School, has first-hand experience with vaccinating younger children. He leads trials of vaccines for children to determine if vaccines are effective and safe.
“This has been happening, especially vaccinations for young children, for a very long time here at MUSC. We started our first participant in the test in June 2021. So we did this for more than a year, “said Ats.
“This is not a scenario for depletion as soon as possible and for approval. It has been studied very methodically and deliberately for much longer and in different ways than any adult study, because we all believe that children are a more vulnerable population. “
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the photos over the weekend, saying in a statement: “COVID-19 vaccines have passed – and will continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in US history.
But that doesn’t mean there are no side effects, Ac said. This is part of what safety monitoring follows.
“The side effects are relatively similar to the side effects after other routine childhood vaccines, which are pain at the injection site, numbness for about a day. And sometimes a low-grade fever in a small number of patients, “said Ats.
“But when the Food and Drug Administration votes on whether, with all the available data, the benefits of the COVID vaccine outweigh the risks?” And based on the data we have from literally thousands of children, the answer was unanimously yes.
Mack said the purpose of the vaccines is to keep them out of the hospital. “We currently have three children hospitalized for COVID here at our children’s hospital. And if you look at DHEC data, we also had an upward trend in the number of cases in the last week.”
DHEC stands for Department of Health and Environmental Control, South Carolina Health Agency.
Mack said that since the beginning of the pandemic, about 140 children aged 6 months to 4 years have been hospitalized with COVID at Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. “I think this is a convincing argument “for young children to be vaccinated,” she said.
Another argument: Ats said that protecting vaccines goes beyond the person receiving the vaccine. “Remember that these children live in households that have adults, may have grandparents, may have other immunocompromised people. So the right decision is ultimately more than just a child. “
He and Mack advised parents with questions about injections for younger children to talk to their pediatricians.
Jagarwal, the coach, said the vaccine could have a positive impact on the next school year. “We hope that this will reduce the percentages in preschool and primary schools.”
MUSC Health will offer vaccines to children aged 6 months and up at its Lockwood and Rutledge Tower. There are plans to possibly expand to other sites. For more information on scheduling an appointment, call 843-876-7727 or log in to MyChart.