MASS. - Jacqueline Fitzpatrick has her 5-year-old son’s COVID-19 vacation appointment booked. She says he has asthma and is immunocompromised.
“I’ve been worried about him this whole time. I mean, if he gets a common cold, he could end up in the ER with complications," Fitzpatrick said. "So I am nervous, but I’m really excited."
Dr. Christina Hermos, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, says she’s getting her younger children vaccinated against COVID-19, too.
“It’s a really safe vaccine.," Dr. Hermos said. "We have a lot of data now in just the older age group. The technology, even-though the it's stimulating the immune system, is a slightly different way the effect on the immune system is the same as all the other 16 approved pediatric vaccines."
Hermos say parents shouldn’t expect their kids to have any long term side effects from the vaccine, but there is a very small risk for infilmation of the heart myocarditis among younger boys. However, Hermos says symptoms are usually mild in those cases, which are about 1 in 100,000.
"Myocarditis from COVID infection is far worse. We've had dozens of patients end up in our Intensive Care Unit with that complication. And given that this is a virus that's not going anywhere, I would certainly consider a vaccinated child much safer than a non vaccinated child," Dr. Hermos said.
CVS is now booking appointments at 52 locations across the state. The first shots will be administered to kids on Sunday.
“We are fully equipped to, you know, handle the children and keeping them as calm as as possible," Vicki Saengkheune, a CVS pharmacy manager in Worcester, said. "The needle that we use also for pediatrics is a lot smaller than that of the adult dose. And it's a lower dose than that of the adult dose that we're administering."
Dr. Hermos says getting more kids vaccinated is a step that could eventually lead to schools lifting their mask mandates. And for families like the Fitzpatrick’s, the vaccine is a chance for a more normal holiday season.
“We haven't gathered indoors with our extended family in almost two years," Fitzpatrick said. "I know he's looking past a normal Christmas for him and I'm hoping this will be a great first step to help protect our family."
Worcester leaders say they are also expecting to start giving out Pfizer to younger children at clinics next week. They are also looking to have clinics in schools at some point.