What to do if your child gets COVID-19 between shots

In June, the last six months children eligible for COVID-19 vaccine when infant and toddler options from Pfizer and Moderna are authorized. But now it’s so contagious B.5 Sub-Major Omicron is increasing transmission across the country, some children who have started the vaccination process may become infected before they can complete it.

This is especially true for children six months to four years old who are receiving Pfizer vaccine, which requires three doses — with the third dose coming two months after the second dose. Children aged six months to five years with the Moderna vaccine will complete their course much fasterwith two doses over four weeks.

Here’s what your pediatrician says to do if your child gets COVID-19 between doses.

Withhold the next dose until the child is well

Pediatricians say that giving a COVID-19 shot between doses should not significantly alter a child’s immunization schedule, other than waiting for the child to recover.

Tina Tan, a pediatrician at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago and a professor at Northwestern University, said: “If you get COVID between doses of your vaccine, you need to wait until it’s done. into isolation prior to the second dose. Going to a vaccination appointment while battling COVID-19 can spread the disease to others.

But after a child’s isolation period ends – usually ten days after they test positive for the first time or start showing symptoms – the child will obviously get an additional shot, Tan said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s between first and second, or second and third. You do the same thing.”

Wait a few weeks if you want — but not too long

Follow guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are no specific federal guidelines for how to navigate the increasingly common situation of a child becoming infected between doses.outside the CDC speech Dr. Ibukun C. Kalu says that if parents notice their child is in this position, they should wait until the child has recovered before giving the next dose – but waiting three months after recovery is also helpful advice. give sick children between doses. , director of pediatric infection prevention at Duke University Medical Center.

“If the child is trying to finish their core series or is due for extra lessons, it makes sense to use that three-month guide,” says Kalu. A child’s age or the type of vaccine they receive does not change this guideline.

The UK’s National Health Service suggestions that children must wait three months after recovering from COVID-19 before receiving the vaccine, while the New York state health department Advise Parents should talk to their pediatrician about this option if their child gets sick between doses.

Read more: 5 good reasons to get your kids immunized against COVID-19

However, a 3-month delay is not required, and some experts say that children should follow the same dosage schedule they would have followed if they were not infected. “If the dose [appointment] Tan said it was far enough for them to have recovered from COVID.”

Sticking to existing appointments can be especially helpful if a child is going back to school or other settings where they are likely to experience coronavirus. BA.5 is very contagious to humans There have been other versions of COVID-19, with some re-improving occurring in less than a month.

Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist and science communicator who writes the popular article Your Local Epidemiologist Newsletter, said that if one of her daughters – who both received the first dose of Moderna vaccine at the end of June – became infected between doses, she would consider pushing their second dose out in a few days. week. “I wouldn’t delay it any more than that,” she said.

Make sure to complete the vaccination course

Completing the series of vaccines after the child has recovered from the infection will ensure that the child has broad protection against future infections and hopefully future variations, experts say.

This is why it’s important to get vaccinated after an infection: because many children have mild cases of COVID-19, their immune systems may not have a “very strong and durable response” to the virus. with infections, says Jetelina. Vaccines are designed to give the immune system more information about the virus and boost that response, helping children be better prepared “in case they are exposed to the virus again.”

Vaccination may also provide longer-lasting protection against new variants. “With Omicron and its sub-variants, you can get infected again and again,” says Tan. “It’s really important that you have your antibody titers there for you to be protected.”

Although COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than it is in adults, the illness can still result in hospitalization in children. Follow data from the Department of Health and Human Services. During the first Omicron surge in January and February, 37,000 children were hospitalized.

During that winter spike, nine out of ten five- to 11-year-olds hospitalized for COVID-19 were unvaccinated, according to one CDC Report. Vaccinating children reduces the risk of hospitalization and death. And while there’s still very little research on whether it reduces the long-term effects of COVID-19 in children — such as long-term COVID and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)—Studies that have show that vaccination reduces the risk of long-term COVID in adults.

Prepare for future doses

Experts are also encouraging parents to include COVID-19 vaccinations as part of preparing for school.

As schools reopen for face-to-face instruction, many schools will have fewer safety measures in place, like mask and social distancing, compared to before. “Children will come into contact, perhaps more often than they do now, with people who have COVID,” said Tan. She also recommends making sure children are up to date with other routine vaccines before the semester begins.

Later in the fall, children may have a chance to receive booster shots tailored to the Omicron variant. Moderna is now testing an Omicron . booster for children under five years of age, similar to Omicron boosters for adults, possible as early as September. Jetelina says this could be the third dose for kids who have already received Moderna’s main series. It’s currently unclear whether an Omicron-specific booster is recommended for young children receiving the Pfizer series, she said.

However, experts recommend that parents don’t wait for potential variant-specific vaccines when they can improve their ability to protect their children against COVID-19 now. “I think the relative unknown we all face about the variants coming out has encouraged people to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible,” says Kalu.

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