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BOONE — COVID-19 vaccines are now available for everyone six months old and older after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine for those younger than 5 years old.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said in a press release. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can. I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services stated there were no safety concerns or serious side effects noted in the clinical trials for either vaccine for children under 5 years old.

With the EUA, the Watauga Democrat asked Dr. Scott St. Clair questions related to the vaccine.

Dr. St. Clair is a pediatrician at Blue Ridge Pediatric Adolescent Medicine in Boone. He earned his MD from the Medical College of Georgia and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his pediatric residency at the Children’s Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was voted most outstanding senior resident, according to his biography.

“I realize that making choices about your children’s health is difficult,” Dr. St. Clair said. “Personally, I have not hesitated to get my older kids vaccinated and would certainly give this to my own child if they were in this age range.”

Here are his answers.

Question: From your perspective, what does it mean now that almost all kids are eligible for a COVID vaccine?

Dr. St. Clair: So many parents have been waiting since the start of the pandemic to protect their youngest children against COVID. That time has finally arrived. I think this allows parents to protect their whole family as well as family and community social circles.

Question: How is this dose for 6 months to 4 years old different from other doses for other children?

Dr. St. Clair: The Pfizer vaccine is a 3 dose vaccine given over 3 months while the Moderna vaccine is a 2 dose vaccine given over 3 weeks. For the Pfizer vaccine, the dose is 1/10th the adult dose and 1/3 the dose for 5-11 year olds. The Moderna vaccine has a little higher dose — the dose is 1/2 of the adult dose and the same dose as for 5-11 year olds. Our office will be providing the Pfizer vaccine. The Health Department will have the Moderna vaccine.

Question: Should a parent of a 4-year-old who is turning 5 soon wait for that size dose or go ahead and get the dose recommended for 4-year-olds?

Dr. St. Clair: The recommendation is to get the dose based on your age. So, if you are a 4-year0old, you can get the 4-year-old dose. If you turn 5 during the time of getting additional doses, you would get the higher dose for that age range. There is no reason to wait as a 4-year-old to get the higher 5-year-old dose — the 4-year-old dose will provide an appropriate immune response.

Question: What are some side effects this age group could have when getting the vaccine?

Dr. St. Clair: The side effects are less than what typically happens with adults. Most common side effects include muscle soreness, decreased appetite and fatigue. There is also a chance of fever but this risk is smaller than for adults. Pfizer studies showed less fever than the Moderna studies.

Question: What would you tell a parent who is unsure whether or not to get their child the vaccine?

Dr. St. Clair: If you have any concerns, please talk to your child’s healthcare provider! They would be happy to answer any questions. I would say that these vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective at protecting against COVID and provide a powerful tool to keep kids and families healthy.

Question: A lot of kids this age are afraid of needles, what would you tell them as well as their parents when talking about getting the vaccine?

Dr. St. Clair: The “pinch” will only last for about one second! Then, go get a treat to celebrate!

Question: Over the past several months, what have you and your office seen in regards to COVD infections among the pediatric population?

COVID is here for the long haul as we will continue to see peaks and valleys of cases in our community. We saw an increase in May in COVID cases that is leveling up now. The best way to prepare for the next wave of COVID is to get vaccinated.

More information on the COVID-19 vaccine can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html.

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