We have been waiting for this for nearly two years – children ages five and older can now get the pediatric COVID vaccine! Now that the dream has become reality, it can be hard to wrap your head around all of the information out there about this vaccine. As a parent, your top priority is your child’s health and you only want what’s best for them. We’ve got your back. Dr. Joshua Richey, Riley Children’s Health pediatrician at IU Health North Hospital, recently answered our questions about the pediatric COVID vaccine in children five and older.
Things we keep hearing. Why should I vaccinate my children when they don’t get that sick? Why should my child get a shot when older relatives are already vaccinated?
Vaccines not only help protect the person receiving the vaccine, but they also help protect all of the other people in contact with them, according to Dr. Richey. “Though the severity of a COVID infection for children is generally low it can still have negative effects. The US has had approximately 150 deaths from COVID at age 18 or under. Another 4,000 have been hospitalized in intensive care with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).” Dr. Richey continues by saying we should also consider significant secondary effects, such as time missed from school due to having the illness and mandatory quarantines from being exposed. “As for the risk to family contacts who have been vaccinated, I think we all understand that the elderly are still at some level of risk even after vaccination,” said Dr. Richey. “Vaccinating everyone else in their contact circles will reduce their risks even further.”
Under what circumstances, if any, would you NOT recommend a child get the COVID vaccine?
Dr. Richey says there is no circumstance where pediatricians would NOT recommend the COVID vaccine to children five years and older, except for one reason: allergic reaction to a previous dose or a previous reaction to a component of the vaccine. He continues by saying the vaccine is not made with anything that would be a common allergen. Allergic reactions to the vaccine have been incredibly small. “There are no preservatives, no egg products, no medications, no proteins, no metals, and no latex in the vaccine. Only Lipids (fats), sugars, and the piece of messenger RNA,” says Dr. Richey.
Is it okay/reasonable to wait a little bit? I am ready, but my partner is not, so we’ve agreed that we will wait.
Dr. Richey recommends not waiting to get the vaccine for your child. “There is no scientific or medical reason to wait for the vaccine at this point,” Dr. Richey said. “Over three billion people worldwide are fully vaccinated now. We know what effects the vaccine will and won’t have.”
How big of a concern is Myocarditis?
Something important parents should know if they are concerned about myocarditis being a side effect of the pediatric COVID vaccine is that this is not an effect specific to just the vaccine. Dr. Richey explains that myocarditis also happens during and after COVID infections to unvaccinated individuals at even greater rates. “In the adolescent and young adult population, myocarditis has been seen in 1 in 100,000 people after the vaccine. But it has been seen in 1 in 10,000 people after an actual infection. If there is a worry about myocarditis then getting the vaccine actually lowers the risk.”
Are you accepting new patients at your IU Health North office location? We know, now more than ever, the importance of pediatrician visits.
Yes! Dr. Richey’s office is accepting new patients. You can call 317.688.5220 or visit their website here to make an appointment.
What can caregivers and new parents expect when taking their child to Riley Children’s Health at IU Health North for pediatric primary care?
“Parents can expect great preventative pediatric care at IU Health North backed up by the best pediatric specialists in the state,” says Dr. Richey. For more information about the services available at Riley Children’s Health at IU Health North, visit the website here.
What if my child needs specialty care after consultation? Does Riley Children’s Health at IU Health North provide access to specialty care physicians for children too?
Dr. Richey says many pediatric specialties from Riley Children’s Health provide care at IU Health North. This also includes pediatric-specific doctors and nurses in the Emergency Department and a variety of pediatric surgeons. The highly skilled team of Riley Pediatricians treats each patient specific to their needs, and their list of primary care and preventative care services is extensive. To see a list of their primary care services as well as what to bring to your appointment, visit the website here.
*Data Sources: UpToDate, COVID-19: Clinical Manifestations and Diagnosis in Children
About Dr. Joshua T. Richey, MD
Dr. Joshua T. Richey, MD specializes in General Pediatrics with Riley Children’s Health. He has been in pediatrics since 2002, after graduating from Indiana University School of Medicine and completing a Pediatric Residency at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Richey loves seeing children grow and develop, and helping parents know what to expect until their next checkup.
Riley Children’s Health at IU Health North Hospital provides nationally ranked pediatric care alongside the most highly skilled physicians and nurses in the state. Whether your child needs primary, specialty, inpatient or emergency care, we are here to support you and your family. Learn more at RileyAtNorth.org.