Dr. Dana Im Answers Boston Moms Reader’s COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

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You asked, we answered! Boston Moms readers submitted questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children, and we had the unique opportunity to sit down with a local doctor to have your questions answered.

We are grateful for the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Dana Im of Brigham and Women’s Hospital to talk through many of the most frequently asked audience questions. Dr. Dana Im is a board-certified emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)/Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. She serves as the Director of Quality and Safety and the Director of Behavioral Health for the Department of Emergency Medicine at BWH. 

We know the information provided by Dr. Im will be helpful to Greater Boston families as they make their decisions.

Watch the video in full here:

Dr. Dana Im answering COVID-19 vaccine questions

Questions asked:

Should unvaccinated children remain masked up, even among vaccinated company? Masks can help protect you, your child, and others from COVID, especially if the COVID risk in your community is high. Of course, always refer to the CDC for updated county level transmission data and talk to your doctor about whether you and your family need to wear a mask and take other precautions. The best way to protect young or unvaccinated children from COVID is to make sure everyone in the household is vaccinated and to get them vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.

Can we go about normally after young children are fully vaccinated, i.e., no masks? CDC recently released a new tool that shows whether the COVID risk in your community is low, medium, or high, and this can help you make good decisions about masks based on risk in your community as well as your individual comfort level. You can find the tool on CDC’s website here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html

How safe and effective are COVID vaccines for kids? COVID vaccines for children are safe and effective and are being carefully monitored using multiple reporting systems. More than 26 million kids have already gotten a COVID vaccine. Before vaccines are made available for kids, they go through rigorous testing in clinical trials and data from the trials is reviewed by independent committees of physicians. The vaccines must meet the highest standards for safety and effectiveness set by both the Food and Drug Administration and CDC before they are authorized for use. 

Can children get natural immunity against COVID instead of that provided by vaccines? We can’t predict how COVID will affect your child but we know children are four times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID if they live in a state with low vaccination rates compared to states with high vaccination rates. The best way to protect your child and others is not to roll the dice on what will happen if they get infected. Vaccines can help protect your child from getting seriously sick or needing hospital care, even if they do get COVID.

Should we be concerned about COVID vaccine side effects for kids, including the risk of myocarditis? COVID is a greater threat to your kids than any potential risk from vaccine side effects. Some kids have no side effects at all and if they do, the most common are a sore arm, tiredness, or headache that last a few days. Symptoms from a COVID infection can last much longer. Extremely rare cases of myocarditis have been seen after vaccination in kids 12-17, but the risk of myocarditis is much higher from COVID than from the vaccine. CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that all children eligible for a COVID vaccine get one as soon as possible.

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