It’s finally here! COVID-19 vaccines for our littlest patients have been authorized! Just this week, the FDA and CDC reviewed data from clinical trials and officially gave authorization for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be given to children ages 6 months to 4 years. This is an exciting time for younger families who have patiently been waiting for this day while older children and adults have been approved and received their vaccines. We feel hopeful again that our children and community will be better protected and we can enjoy playdates, celebrations, and everyday life a little more stress-free- just in time for summer!
PANW has been preparing behind the scenes in anticipation of this approval. We will be holding Saturday vaccine clinics and offering appointments during the week. Please note: only the Moderna vaccine will be offered at PANW for this age group (Pfizer is still available for patients 5 years and older).
See below for more information about appointment options and a Q & A with Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Chaffin, as he answers common questions we’ve been hearing from parents.
Saturday Vaccine Clinics (Tigard Office)
June 25th (First dose) & July 23rd (First & Second doses)
**Note: These vaccine clinics will be held in the Tigard office, not drive-thru. Depending on patient interest, additional Saturday vaccine clinics may be added.
Options for Appointments During the Week (All Locations)
Starting June 27th, patients who have an upcoming office visit already scheduled can receive their vaccine during that appointment. Alternatively, patients can schedule a “vaccine-only” appointment.
Please call our offices to schedule an appointment. Online scheduling is not available.
As with COVID-19 vaccines for all other age groups, there is a 15-30 minute waiting period after the vaccine is given. This is so our medical team can monitor patients for any adverse reactions. We recommend accounting for this “medical observation” period when scheduling an appointment.
Beaverton: (503) 673-1071
Portland: (503) 227-0671
Tigard: (503) 968-3480
Is the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for 6 month – 4 year olds the same as the adult version?
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for younger children is a smaller dose (25 micrograms) than the adult version (100 micrograms). There are 2 doses, spaced 4 – 8 weeks apart. To achieve adequate immunity sooner, it is better to space the 2 doses 4 weeks apart rather than postponing the second dose until 8 weeks later.
Is there a difference in the efficacy between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine for this younger age group?
Unfortunately, this is not a straightforward answer. The studies show that severe disease was reduced in both groups of children- those who got Moderna and those who got Pfizer. The percentages are different, at this time. The key piece of information is that Moderna conducted their clinical trials during the Omicron variant surge. Pfizer’s trials started before this, which means protection against the more recent variants is not well represented in Pfizer’s data.
The ultimate decision parents have to consider is if they would like their child to have 2 doses (Moderna) and adequate protection a week after the second dose, OR go with Pifzer, which requires 3 doses and delays adequate immunity for 2-3 months after the first dose.
We anticipate that Moderna will end up creating a booster dose soon. We also anticipate that Pfizer’s data will look more like Moderna’s data in the coming months as their study continues for the next two years. Each family will need to weigh the current data from both vaccines and make the decision that works best for them.
What are the expected side effects of the Moderna vaccine for this age group?
The side effects for younger children are very similar to what we have seen in adults and older children. The most common side effects are achiness, fever, and chills for about 24 hours. These are a good sign that your child’s body is doing what it’s supposed to do- build its immunity! If your child does not experience side effects, the vaccine is still working. Data from the older age groups has shown that the vaccine is well tolerated with rare adverse reactions. From the over 8,735 COVID-19 vaccines we have given to our patients, no serious adverse reactions have been observed.
Some parents are nervous about the vaccine for younger children. Dr. Chaffin, how do mRNA vaccines work and how do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?
Although mRNA vaccines are newer, the research around them has been around for many years, in anticipation of an outbreak like we are experiencing. mRNA vaccines are different than other vaccines like the flu or chickenpox vaccine where an inactivated version is introduced to the body. mRNA vaccines are instead, a recipe or blueprint to teach our bodies how to make proteins that mimic the COVID-19 virus, without infecting us. With these proteins in our bodies, we build up immunity to them and are ready to fight off the real virus if we ever get it. The most important thing to know is that the RNA in the vaccine has no way of turning back into DNA to affect our genetic material. Nothing in the vaccine contains the live virus.
As with all the other age groups, the dosage for 6 month – 4 year olds was carefully tested to ensure safety, tolerability, and effectiveness in thousands of children. Along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, all the providers at PANW believe in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and strongly recommend all eligible individuals to get vaccinated. The benefits and protection of the vaccine for children 6 months – 4 years old outweigh the potential risks. For more information about the risks and benefits of the Moderna vaccine, see the Moderna EUA Fact Sheet.
If young children are at lower risk of getting the virus or having severe symptoms, do they really need to get their COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, it’s still important to get vaccinated! It’s true that children tend to have more asymptomatic infections but COVID-19 is still spreading rapidly across the country and more children are getting sick from the virus. The rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 for children under 5 soared during the Omicron peak in early 2022. It was five times higher than during the Delta wave of 2021, according to the CDC.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the #1 most effective way to protect children and stop the spread of the virus. It takes everyone working together to get vaccinated and increase vaccination rates in each community so the virus doesn’t have a chance to mutate into more variants like the Delta, Omicron, and most recent variant. Each new variant increases the risk for everyone and prolongs the pandemic.
If a child has had COVID-19 or is currently sick with COVID-19, do they still need to get the vaccine? Should they wait a certain amount of time before getting it?
The vaccine is recommended for all individuals, even those who have had COVID-19. While a previous infection offers some natural immunity, this is only temporary and much lower than immunity from the vaccine so there is a risk of contracting the virus again. During the peak of the Delta variant, we saw an increase in hospitalizations for 5-11 year olds who had already had COVID before, indicating that natural immunity from previous infections is not enough to protect against re-infection. For fully vaccinated individuals with breakthrough cases, the likelihood of severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death are much lower.
Children with current infections can get vaccinated once symptoms have resolved and isolation requirements have been met. Guidance from the CDC also states that individuals who have had COVID-19 recently may consider waiting 90 days from the start of symptoms (or positive test if asymptomatic). Studies have shown that waiting this amount of time may lead to a better immune response to the vaccine.
If families prefer the Pfizer vaccine for their young child, where can they find it in the community?
The OHA Vaccine Finder website lists community vaccine sites. Many pharmacies in the area are able to vaccinate children 3 years and older. We recommend calling ahead to verify that your pharmacy is able to vaccinate younger children, as each one is different.
We continue to offer 1st, 2nd, and booster doses during the week for patients 5 years and older (Pfizer only). Call to schedule an appointment today. For complete information about COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for every age group, and what PANW is providing, please see our vaccine update page.