Published on December 09, 2021

It’s Their Turn

COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children

Happy family outdoors

COVID-19 Shots Available for Ages 5-11

Eight-year-old Andrew Perrin can’t wait to have churros with chocolate when his family visits Spain this summer.

“We’re not going to go anywhere,” his mother, Melanie Perrin, said laughing. “We’re just going to eat.” It’s a trip the family had to postpone for a year due to the pandemic. But now that the entire household is vaccinated against COVID-19, the trip is a go.

Melanie Perrin and her husband, both teachers, got their vaccines in early 2021. On Nov. 11, one week after the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Western States Science Safety Review Workgroup authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11, the couple’s two children got their first dose.

Melanie Perrin anxiously awaited the approval. When it came, she was so happy she hugged a friend who works in health care when she saw her at ballet practice, where their daughters dance together.

“I was just so excited,” she said. “I was ready for my kids to have another level of protection. I wanted them to have the same level of security that me and my husband have, (and to) know we had done everything possible to keep them — and the people around them — safe.”

“I was ready for my kids to have another level of protection. I wanted them to have the same level of security that me and my husband have… ” said Melanie Perrin, a teacher and the mother of two kids who were vaccinated.

Protecting the Young

Children ages 5-11 receive a smaller dosage of the Pfizer vaccine in two shots, three weeks apart. Ages 5-11 get 10 micrograms. Ages 12 and above receive 30 micrograms.

As of Nov. 23, 932 children ages 5-11 had received at least one dose of the vaccine in Butte County, said Lisa Almaguer, the Communications Manager for Butte County Public Health. Experts hope the move will help slow the spread of COVID-19, and help protect some of the population’s youngest patients.

In Butte County, 1,038 positive COVID cases had been reported among kids as of Nov. 23, out of the county’s estimated population of 17,000 children. While many children who get COVID-19 do not experience serious illness, some do, leading to hospitalization and long-term health issues.

One of those issues is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), a condition where different body parts can become inflamed. This can include the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal organs.

Protecting the Community

Vaccinating the young will also help protect families and the community as a whole, said Enloe’s Chief Medical Officer Marcia Nelson, M.D. “We won’t get through COVID if we think of it in terms of just one particular group protecting themselves against the virus,” she said. “We really are all in this together.”

“We won’t get through COVID if we think of it in terms of just one particular group protecting themselves against the virus. We really are all in this together.” said Marcia Nelson, M.D., Enloe’s Chief Medical Officer.

When children spend time with older adults, they can spread the virus, even if they have no symptoms.

“We know that younger kids usually have milder cases, but we also know that when people are 75 and older in Butte County and they get COVID, there’s a 15% mortality rate,” she said. “That’s a staggering rate.”

Nelson said COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children ages 5-11, noting that they have been tested extensively. Almaguer echoed that sentiment.

“All COVID-19 vaccines must meet the same rigorous safety standards as any other vaccine,” Almaguer said. “COVID-19 vaccines have undergone — and will continue to undergo — the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”

However, like adults, children can experience side effects after getting the vaccine. This could include pain, redness or swelling in the arm where they had the shot, fatigue, chills, fever and nausea. But side effects are typically temporary. Perrin’s children, for instance, had sore arms for just a couple of days.

“COVID-19 vaccines have undergone — and will continue to undergo — the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history,” said Lisa Almaguer, Butte County Public Health’s Communications Manager.

For 11-year-old Abby Perrin that was a small price to pay for being able to have play dates indoors again. The ballerina is happy she got vaccinated and had some advice for children who might be nervous when getting their shot.

“Take a deep breath and squeeze your mother’s hand,” she said. “You’ll be fine and it will be worth it.” Need to get your child vaccinated? Find a pediatric clinic at myturn.ca.gov and make an appointment.