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Vaccination of children-adolescents: Answers to commonly asked questions

Answers to frequently asked questions by parents and guardians

Kathimerini Greece Newsroom

As of July 2021, the coronavirus vaccine has been added to the National Vaccination Program for children and adolescents aged 12-17. Here are the most commonly asked questions and answers about the COVID-19 vaccine provided by the National Vaccination Committee.

  1. I hesitate to vaccinate my child because these vaccines were made in a short time. Is it safe?
    Vaccines have been produced rapidly thanks to advances in technology, global scientific collaboration, strong funding, large numbers of volunteers, and the reduction of bureaucracy. The control of efficiency and safety was strictly observed, without deviations from the control mechanisms.
  2. Which vaccines against coronavirus have been approved for children?
    The vaccines approved by the International Assessment Organizations (FDA and EMA) for children> 12 years of age are the vaccines produced using the mRNA methodology: Pfizer Biontech's Comirnaty vaccine and Moderna's Spikevax.
  3. What are vaccines made with mRNA technology?
    Vaccines made with mRNA technology do not contain a virus, but a set of information (message) to train our cells to make a protein (the coronavirus protein), which will activate the immune system to produce protective antibodies.
  4. Why should I vaccinate my child, since the disease at his age is mild?
    To protect them, to increase their defenses and to contribute to the wall of immunity that is so important for our return to everyday life.  Generally, the risk of serious COVID-19 infection is small, but real. Children rarely acquire multisystemic inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), which is associated with COVID infection. But 2% of those that catch the virus without the vaccine experience long-term symptoms for many weeks which they call long COVID.
  5. Are children vaccinated to protect unvaccinated adults?
    Vaccination is recommended:
    A) To protect the individual health of children, both physical and mental.
    B) To allow a safe return to school and extracurricular activities.
    C) To reduce the spread of the virus in the family. Vaccination of children and adolescents protect vulnerable family members who may not have developed adequate immunity to the vaccine.
    D) To reduce the spread of the virus in schools and, consequently, the number of new cases in the community at large.
    E) To reducing the spread of the virus in the community and ultimately to prevent the emergence of new mutations.
  6. Can children with allergies be vaccinated?
    Yes. Common allergies to food, drugs, environmental allergens, dyes, insect bites are not contraindications. Vaccination is contraindicated in rare cases of allergy to the components of mRNA vaccines (Peg polyethylene glycol and polysorbate 80). Children with a history of allergies will be required to remain at the center to be monitored for 30 minutes after the vaccination.
  7. Is an antipyretic (fever reducing drugs) recommended before vaccination?
    No. It is not indicated as a precaution because it can reduce the body's immune response. However, if the child develops a fever or myalgia after the vaccination, he may be given an antipyretic drug.
  8. If my child gets COVID, would it be better than getting vaccinated?
    No. The vaccine protects against the risk of possible side effects of the disease. After all, immunity from natural diseases decrease over time.
  9. Is it true that the vaccine will change the DNA of the child-adolescent?
    No. The mRNA vaccine cannot alter human DNA. The mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell where the DNA is located.
  10. Can the vaccine affect fertility or the menstrual cycle in young adolescents?
    No. The mRNA vaccine molecule is destroyed as soon as it completes its mission in the body and is eliminated from the body. There is no biological link between vaccine and fertility and no harmful effect of the vaccine on male and female fertility has been found.
  11. Can my child get sick from the vaccine itself?
    No. The vaccine does not contain a live virus. Therefore, it cannot cause infection and disease.
  12. What are the most common side effects from vaccination?
    To date, of the many millions of vaccines given (> 10,000,000 to 12-17 year olds), those reported are comparable to known vaccines. Side effects are mild, short-lived and include: fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, diarrhea and pain at the injection site.
  13. Can the mRNA vaccine cause heart damage? How dangerous is it?
    In rare cases (18: 1,000,000) the vaccine has been associated with inflammation of the myocardium or pericardium. These manifestations usually affect young males aged 12 to 29 years and appear a few days after the second dose of the vaccine. In most cases, the symptoms resolve on their own.
    In rare cases where chest pain, difficulty breathing and palpitations occur, you need to contact a doctor immediately. It is important to note that COVID causes at least six times as many cases of myocarditis.
  14. How will the other recommended vaccines for adolescents (HPV, diphtheria, tetanus, meningitis) and coronavirus be given?
    The coronavirus vaccine does not prevent children and adolescents from being vaccinated. They can all be done a few days apart or even at the same time. There is no specific interval between vaccines.
  15. I am afraid of side effects that may occur years after vaccination.
    Most side effects of the vaccines occur in the first few weeks after administration. The mRNA vaccines are destroyed by the body within hours after sending the "signal" to the body to produce antibodies. No component of the vaccine accumulates in the body to cause long-term side effects.
  16. Do children - adolescents need precautionary measures against coronavirus after vaccination?
    Yes. Vaccinated children should continue to use a mask and maintain social distance, hand hygiene and a clean the area. A vaccinated asymptomatic child can become infected with the virus and transmit it to another person.
    Vaccination is considered complete after both doses of the vaccine is administered.

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