On July 14th, Health Canada authorized the use of the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine in children 6 months to 5 years of age. For many of you, this comes as a big relief. With many pandemic restrictions lifted and people no longer required to wear masks, parents have been eagerly awaiting the approval of the vaccine for children under 5.
After rigorous review, Health Canada concluded that the benefits of the Moderna Spikevax vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years outweigh the potential risks. But you may still have questions about vaccinating your little ones. Since most kids are not likely to become severely ill with COVID-19 and many children have already had it, you may be asking “why should I vaccinate my child against COVID-19?”
While there are several reasons for getting your child vaccinated for COVID-19, here are three important facts to consider when weighing the risks and benefits.
The vaccine is safe and effective
Health Canada has completed a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence and has found the Moderna vaccine safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 in children 6 months to 5 years. In terms of effectiveness, the two-dose vaccine was about 51% effective against infection from the Omicron variant in kids 6 months to 23 months of age, and about 37% effective for kids 2-5 years. Although this may seem low, the immune response shown in children was similar to that of adults, suggesting that vaccination will protect our kids against severe disease.
Some children develop serious illness from COVID-19
Although most children do not become seriously ill with COVID-19, this is not the case for all. Some children experience severe disease and require hospitalization. According to a recent COVID-19 epidemiology update, as of July 8th, kids represent around 11% of all COVID cases in Canada. Of these cases, 1 out of 100 will require hospitalization and 1 out of 10 hospitalizations will end up in the ICU. Children who have had COVID-19 are also at risk of developing complications such as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) or long lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being (Long COVID). It is important to consider that evidence has shown vaccination helps to protect against these serious conditions.
Vaccination is recommended, even after being infected with COVID-19
Many children have already had COVID-19, which may make you question whether to get them vaccinated. While infection does provide some protection, vaccination after having COVID-19 is recommended, as it helps improve the immune response and may provide better and longer-lasting protection against the virus. Learn more about vaccination timing for individuals who previously had a COVID-19 infection.
As parents, we want to keep our children safe and healthy. It’s normal and encouraged to ask questions. For more information, talk to your health care provider and check out the frequently asked questions and other great resources on our website. You can also visit COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to book a confidential phone appointment with a SickKids Registered Nurse.
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply call 311 or 905-825-6000.