Trick or Treat

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

With many adults and older children vaccinated against COVID-19, this Halloween is back to being scary in all the right ways. Still, as COVID-19 continues to spread, celebrating safely remains a priority. There are many households with young children that are not yet eligible for the vaccine, or friends and family that are immunocompromised, and for them it’s important to keep Halloween traditions safe. We pulled together recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure this year’s celebration is all treats, no tricks.

Giving Out Candy

  • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters and give treats outdoors, if possible.
  • Set up a table with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer before handling treats, and in between trick-or-treaters.
  • Non-food items can be a nice change from the usual candy, too. Especially for kids that suffer from food allergies.

Trick-or-Treating

  • Stick with outdoor trick-or-treating when possible and stay in small groups.
  • Avoid large groups of kids huddled around a doorstep. Stand back and wait for your turn.
  • Wear a mask
    • Make the mask as part of the costume (think nurse or surgeon, superhero, ninja)
    • A costume mask is not a substitute for a mask with several layers of breathable fabric or a disposable surgical mask that fits over the mouth and nose snuggly.  
    • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult
    • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Wash your hands
    • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people
    • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
      • Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats

Indoor Activities

  • If you or your children do attend an indoor activity, be sure to mask up and keep a social distance. There will be a mix of vaccinated adults and teens as well as unvaccinated attendees and wearing a mask will reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 or other seasonal viruses.

If you decide not to take your kids trick or treating this year, here are some ideas how you can enjoy Halloween safely.

  • Decorate and carve pumpkins
    • Decorate your home for Halloween.
    • Carve pumpkins with members of your household or outside with neighbors or friends.
    • Walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
  • Visit an orchard, forest, or corn maze. Attend a scavenger hunt.
    • Go on an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt.
    • Visit a pumpkin patch or orchard. Remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after touching frequently touched surfaces, pumpkins, or apples.
    • Go to a one-way, walk-through haunted forest or corn maze.
  • Other Ideas
    • Hide Halloween treats in and around your house. Hold a Halloween treat hunt (think like an Easter Egg hunt) in the house and yard. Try turning off the lights and hunting with flashlights!
    • Hold an outdoor costume parade or contest so everyone can show off their costumes.
    • Host an outdoor Halloween movie night with friends or neighbors or an indoor movie night with your household members.

If you have any concerns around upcoming holiday gatherings or general questions about your child’s health, contact your pediatric provider. They can help.


For more helpful information about kids and Halloween, check out these articles from the American Academy of Pediatrics:


Think Outside the [Lunch] Box!

Sometimes school lunches can get boring – both for parents to make and for kids to eat. It’s pretty easy to fall into a lunch rut when packing lunch is just one of many tasks to check-off every morning. As you wrap up a month of another school year, we’ve got the recipe to keep boring lunches at bay.

Ditch the same old PB&J and try something new. We’re not suggesting rolling sushi in the wee hours of the morning. Keep it simple. Here are some of our lunch-time favorites:
• Hummus with pita bread and veggies for dipping
• Turkey slices rolled around a red pepper strip and cheese stick
• Whole grain mini bagel with cream cheese and sliced strawberries
• Tuna (with the pop-off lid) with cucumber slices and whole grain crackers
• Kebabs:
o Meat (cooked) with cheese and veggies
o Pieces of granola bar with fruit
o Waffles and fried chicken
o Grape tomatoes with mozzarella and basil leaves (don’t forget the balsamic vinegar drizzle!)
• Whole grain cereal, yogurt and blueberries
• A sliced hard-boiled egg, Canadian bacon and cheese on a whole grain English muffin
• Leftovers from dinner or soup in a thermal container


Include a note. Who doesn’t love a surprise? Wish your child good luck on a test, give them a pat on the back for a recent accomplishment, a note of encouragement or send a sweet message just because!


Use a fun lunch box. If the lunch box features your child’s favorite character or color they will enjoy bringing it to the table each day. Individual plastic containers are fun to fill and are a great tool to teach portion control, and keep things separated – Bento Box containers are a great option.


Be cool. Use a cold pack to keep food fresh and safe. They even come in fun colors!

Create a weekly meal plan. Have your child help plan their lunches each week. The planning process will help understand healthy eating by including a variety of food groups as well as encourage your child to try new foods (fingers crossed!). Get your weekly school lunch planner template here.


If you have any concerns around your child’s eating habits, connect with your pediatric provider. They’ll give you some food for thought.

Overloaded

Backpack Safety 101

Does your child pull their backpack off as soon as they step off the bus or out of school, and request that you carry it for them? As a rule, a child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10% – 15% of their body weight, but many kids are carrying bags much heavier than that. If your child is complaining of a sore back, they struggle to put their backpack on or they learn forward to walk once they get it on, their backpack is most likely too heavy. Read on for some tips to ensure they have the right backpack for their needs and their body type, and they are packing light.

Get the right backpack.

  • Discuss what will need to go in the backpack to ensure you get the right size
  • Your child’s backpack should not be wider than their torso
  • The backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below your child’s waist
  • Padded shoulder straps are a necessity
  • A padded back will help prevent objects from poking your child in the back
  • Waist and chest straps will help your child distribute the load of their backpack when it’s packed
  • Consider the weight of the backpack itself and choose one made of a lightweight material

Carry smart.

  • Two straps distribute the weight of the backpack evenly, be sure your child is using both
  • Adjust the straps to ensure a good fit for your child (remember the backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waist)
  • Help decide what should come home every day, and what can be left in their locker
  • When they must bring home a full pack, encourage your child to use their chest and waist straps
  • Pack the heaviest items on the bottom, and make use of the multiple compartments to better distribute the load

To ensure you child is carrying a sensible weight, pick up their backpack once in a while, or weigh it on the bathroom scale. Make adjustments as needed to help keep your child’s back in great shape!

If your child is complaining of pain that doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your child’s pediatric provider.  They’ve got your back!

Originally published October 2019

Busting Myths: Breastfeeding as a working mom

by Lisa A. Hammer, MD, IBCLC

You’ve heard about the benefits of breastfeeding your baby. You know breast milk is best for your baby (the antibodies!). But let’s face it, returning to work after weeks of cozy breastfeeding sessions creates a lot of anxiety and pressure (pun intended) for mom. There’s so much information out there online and from every woman you know that’s ever had a baby. We’re here to breakdown some of the most common concerns around returning to work and continuing to provide breastmilk for your baby. Read on to learn how some common myths around breastfeeding while working are, well, busted.

Myth: Nursing less often will create more milk when I do nurse.
Actually, the more you nurse (or pump), the more milk you will produce. Your body is creating your milk supply based on demand. Feed your baby when they ask (in their own way), and your body will produce the milk they need. If you are returning to work, this will help in ensuring you are producing what your baby needs while pumping.

Myth: My baby won’t breastfeed once they get used to bottles.
You will always be your baby’s favorite way to get their milk. When your baby is with you, they will expect to be breastfeed. If your baby has a predictable feeding schedule, when you return to work ask your caregiver to hold-off on giving them a bottle close to your arrival, so you can breastfeed your baby when you return home. Also, be sure you drink plenty of fluids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Staying hydrated is important in general, but especially while breastfeeding.

Myth: I need a freezer full of milk to return to work.
Just when a new mom or dad feels like they are adjusting to life as parents, it’s typically time to return to work. For a mother who is breastfeeding, this transition can be especially difficult. A few weeks before your re-entry into the working world, start mixing some pumping and bottle feeding into your baby’s routine. This will help in two ways; your baby will get some practice with and be more willing to take a bottle and you will have some milk stored for backup. We recommend a minimum supply of two days’ worth of breastmilk for a smooth transition. As you pump at work, you will get into a rhythm of producing what your little one needs. You don’t need a freezer stocked full of milk in order to return to work.

Myth: I can’t breastfeed and pump at the same time.
There’s a balance between pumping and breastfeeding. Once you find it, your body will respond and produce the milk required. To start working pumping into your feeding schedule, pump between breastfeeding your baby. Pump about an hour AFTER you feed, and at least an hour BEFORE your baby’s next feeding. If you are returning to work, take note of when your baby typically eats, and pump based on that schedule. Continue to demand milk consistently and your body will get the signal to produce enough breast milk for your little one.

Myth: I will have to stop breastfeeding when I return to work.
Every mother has a legal right to take breaks from work to pump. That said, many women may still be anxious about taking this time. While you are pregnant and before you go on maternity leave, chat with your boss about a pumping schedule. That way, your boss will know what to expect upon your return and you will have some peace of mind knowing there is a plan in place to ensure you can continue to provide breast milk for your baby. Also, be sure to understand the accommodations available to you in the work place for pumping. Where is the room? Where will you store the milk you pump throughout the day? To get your questions answered, chat with a human resources rep or a colleague that recently transitioned from maternity leave and pumped at your office, to get your questions answered.

Myth: I won’t be successful at work if I have to stop and pump.
For a mother that wants to continue providing breast milk for her baby, taking the time to pump will create peace of mind, and allow you to be more focused when at your desk. You may even want to use the time you spend pumping to catch up on some emails, or read through an article or report that you can’t seem to work into your day while sitting at your desk. Some of your colleagues will understand when you excuse yourself a few times a day to pump, and others may not. The fact is, it’s your right to take time to pump during the work day, so try to focus on your baby and not the opinions of those around you. If you have concerns, talk to a manager or supervisor.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to take care of your baby, but it can be a struggle too. If you are feeling stressed about producing milk for your baby, make an appointment to chat with a provider. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to breastfeeding, and they can provide the support you need as you work through challenges that come with being a new mom.

Originally Posted August 2019


Did you know IHA offers Breastfeeding Medicine? While breast milk is felt to be nature’s first food, breastfeeding does not always come naturally. Breastfeeding is a physiological process that involves both the mother and baby. We provide specialized breastfeeding care for both mother and baby. Learn more about IH Breastfeeding Medicine below.

Kid’s Mental Health

How to help your children navigate anxiety and depression brought on by COVID-19

As we head into the final month of summer, the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine surround us as life begins to feel more normal. For many children and adolescents, it’s a time to get back to sports and activities, hang out with friends and family, and soon return to school. Unfortunately, re-entry into “normal” is not as easy as it may seem for many youth in our community. Fifteen months of social isolation during the pandemic has magnified issues in children and adolescents who have struggled with anxiety and depression.

There have been studies regarding the relationship between loneliness and mental health in healthy children and adolescents. We know social isolation and loneliness can increase the risk of depression even a decade later. Throughout the country, pediatricians are concerned that the loneliness experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely affect the future mental health of our youth.

Patrick Gaulier, Senior Clinical Social Worker at IHA WestArbor Pediatrics, notes that “many adolescent patients have talked about feeling isolated and separated from their friends and other supportive groups.” Children and teens have turned to social media as their primary source of maintaining a connection with their peers. In many cases, this online-only environment has ended friendships which, in turn, causes many adolescents to become reluctant to return to in-person learning. During a recent appointment, Patrick recalls a 10-year-old describing deeply disliking in-person learning because he “doesn’t know anyone anymore” and worries he will not be able to make friends again.  

What to look for

With the return to activities, symptoms of anxiety or depression could show up at any point. Some children may initially seem fine, with parents noticing signs several weeks later. Other children will exhibit symptoms right away. Not all children will be able to express their feelings of depression or anxiety in an obvious way. Instead, they will show complaints of physical symptoms or behavior changes. Parents and guardians should learn to recognize signs of mental illness, as it isn’t always obvious. Children and adolescents may express their worries through behaviors such as withdrawal from family and friends, irritability, argumentativeness, and aggression. Some may try to avoid activities that they previously enjoyed. Or, they may show physical symptoms like stomach aches or headaches. 

How to help the children and teens in your life

Checking in with kids about their mental health may be one of the most important things we do to help our youth out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sometimes, it’s as easy as saying, “Hey, I see you are having a hard day today. Is something making you worried?” 

Encouraging children and adolescents to participate in physical activities and spend time outdoors with peers is an excellent step in helping improve physical and mental health. Kids will experience positive emotional benefits with increased safe socialization as we continue to vaccinate and cases continue to decrease. 

Of course, when in doubt, you should always reach out to your child’s pediatrician. Pediatricians routinely evaluate patients for mental health concerns. They can make recommendations such as healthy lifestyle changes or connect you with a mental health professional who has experience and expertise in treating children. 

We cannot ignore the negative impacts on mental health on the development of children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that parents, family, friends, pediatricians, and therapists can all help address the mental health needs of children and adolescents. The earlier we intervene for our youth, the better chance we have of making a positive impact. If you would like to speak to a pediatrician about your child’s mental health, IHA Pediatrics is available for same or next-day appointments in-person or via video to determine the next steps. More information can be found online at then link below.

Celebrating Safely

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Holiday safety tips for a fun and festive 4th of July

This Fourth of July, more than ever, we are looking forward to celebrating with family and friends.  Although some of the restrictions around COVID-19 have been relaxed, there are some other health concerns to consider.  Follow these safety reminders to keep yourself and your family safe this holiday weekend.

Firework Safety

Fireworks are a favorite tradition and for the Fourth of July, but they can cause death and injury, including burns, cuts, bruises, and foreign objects in your eyes.

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
  • Designate the people who will be responsible for igniting fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper, which often means they were made for professional displays and could be dangerous for consumers.
  • Make sure you and your family watch fireworks displays from a safe distance. Draw a line using chalk or string, so children have a visual indicator not to cross and get too close to where the fireworks are being launched.
  • Call 911 immediately if someone is injured from fireworks.

Food Safety

Hot weather and food that’s been left out a little too long are a recipe for a stomachache. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the summer months typically see a spike in reports of foodborne illness.  Whether hosting or attending a 4th of July picnic or BBQ, follow these tips to ensure you and your family

  • Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry and ready to eat foods, like raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs.
  • Don’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours – one hour if the outside temperature is over 90 degrees. Keep perishable food in an insulated cooler packed with ice or ice packs. If you are not the host or hostess and are unsure about how food is being handled, consider bringing your own cooler of food.

Pool Safety

According to the CDC, drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1 to 4 years old than any other cause except birth defects.

  • Designate a responsible adult to watch all children swimming or playing in or around water. Drowning occurs quickly and quietly, so adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity while supervising children. If there are multiple children swimming, have multiple adults to supervise, each assigned to monitor specific children.
  • Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
  • Always swim with a buddy. Whenever possible choose swimming sites that have lifeguards.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
  • Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.

Heat Safety

From parades to fireworks, the Fourth of July typically means a lot of time outdoors and in the sun. In hot temperatures your body may be unable to properly cool itself. This could lead to serious health problems.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay in the shade when you can, and when you can’t, create your own shade. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Put on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher – the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels.

Bug Safety

Uninvited party guests like mosquitoes, ticks, and some flies can spread diseases like Zika, dengue and Lyme disease. They’re also really annoying and their bites can cause pain, itching and in some cases, an allergic reaction.

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain at least 20% DEET for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs. Remember always follow product instructions. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
  • If possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and a hat. Tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks for maximum protection, especially if walking in a grassy area.
  • Check yourself and your children for ticks. Learn more about ticks and how to remove one from your skin: blog.ihacares.com/tick-tick-boom/

Despite taking precautions, illness and injury can still happen. IHA and St. Joe’s Medical Group Urgent Care locations will be open this holiday weekend to care for you and your family. Click below to save your spot in line at an urgent care near you.

Watch Less, Play More: Setting limitations on screen time

Omkar Karthikeyan, MD

How did anyone ever parent before smartphones? We all know the scenario: a family is sitting at a restaurant eating dinner and a young child gets restless. A parent hands over a phone or a tablet to keep them occupied while they finish their meal and have a nice conversation. This seems innocent enough, but we are learning that when we hand over screens or place a child in front of the TV, we are doing it at the expense of their language and socio-emotional development as well as physical exercise.

Time that a child spends staring at a digital device, or screen time, is time they are not interacting with other people. Learning to bond and interact with others is crucial for children starting at a very early age. Now, I’m not saying that parents need to engage in deep conversations or read books every time they interact with their child. Simple conversations with a young child, even narrating your activities helps. Screen time is a strictly passive activity. Kids are rarely, if ever interacting with a screen in a meaningful way. However, even the most basic of activities, such as building and knocking down towers of blocks, doing puzzles together or scribbling with crayons on a piece of scrap paper (or a napkin) help teach kids cause and effect, and foster human interaction. These are invaluable for stimulating language development and creating a healthy emotional foundation.

A child that has more than the recommended exposure to screens at a young age is more likely to lead a more screen-filled, sedentary lifestyle as a teenager and beyond. This often goes hand in hand with mindless, unhealthy eating. Kids playing video games all day aren’t usually reaching for apples and carrots. People with active lifestyles that include regular exercise and exposure to the outdoors tend to be more physically and mentally healthy in the long run. My recommendation to parents is to turn of the television and put handheld devices away. This is true for both kids and adults. It’s hard to ignore a TV that’s on or a phone that’s blinking with a notification. Parenting without screens is certainly more challenging, especially in the early years, but it’s definitely worth the investment in the long-run. Teaching your child to entertain him/herself without the aid of screens will benefit them throughout their childhood.

So, what are the age-based recommended limitations on screen time? Below are the recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics. Remember though that at ALL ages, less is more, especially in preschool/early elementary-aged kids.

Under 2 years of age: No screen time

Ages 2-5: Limit to one hour of screen time per day

Ages 5 and up*: Consistent limitations on screen time, ensuring children have healthy physical activity and sleep schedules as well as personal relationships and interactions.(*Notice this says “and up”. Screen time limitations are for everyone, not just children. It’s important for adults to limit the amount of time they spend plugged-in, not only for their own well-being, but to set a great example for children).You can start by being aware of just how much time your family is spending in front of a screen. Jot down the number of minutes per day on a piece of paper on your refrigerator, or try this tool from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to create a customized family media plan: Family Media Plan


Originally posted July 2019

Kids + Sports

Why playing organized sports is good for kids

by Melissa Ayoub Heinen, DO, MPH

After a year of COVID-19 restrictions, school closures and sports cancellations, we’re finally seeing steps back to “normalcy” amidst the chaos.  For young athletes, it’s time to get back on the soccer field, tennis court, football field or baseball diamond.   It’s a time to get active, connect with friends and enjoy some friendly (or fierce) competition.

If everyone obeys the state-mandated rules, our youth can safely compete again.

Getting involved in a youth sport allows kids to learn physical and social skills in a team-based environment.   With a plethora of choices available, it can be hard to choose the right sport for them. Parents should follow the child’s lead and interests when enrolling them in a new activity. The emphasis should be on the enjoyment of the sport, not on winning. You may find it takes your child a few tries to find a good fit, but with some research and a good sideline cheer section, you’ll find one that best fits their interests and the family schedule and budget.

Health Benefits of Sports for Kids

Reduced risk of obesity.  For many kids screentime has replaced physical activity. Getting involved in an organized sport with a schedule, a coach and a team create accountability and motivation to show up and be physically active. Pediatricians are finding that children who are physically active outside of school are more likely to maintain a normal, healthy weight.

Physical development. Participation in a sport will help your child with coordination, motor skills and muscle development. Kids also learn new skills or how they can use their bodies in different ways depending on the sport.

Social skills. Communicating using text has become the norm for most young people. Being part of a team means learning to communicate verbally and non-verbally with other people. Learning to work with others and support people on a team are skills that will provide lifelong benefits.

Confidence. Children develop self-confidence when they find success in something they enjoy doing. Sports provide many options for a child to find their niche and excel as an individual and as team.

Sportsmanship. Learning to be fair, how to handle defeat with grace and respect for coaches, referees, teammates and opponents are valuable lessons for people of all ages.

Have fun! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “When children have fun playing sports, they are more likely to remain involved in athletic programs and stay physically active throughout childhood, realizing lifelong health benefits for the developing body, brain and self-worth.” It’s important for coaches and parents to remain positive, encourage the team to try hard and create positive team dynamics.

Friendship. Participation in any extra curricular activities can result in forming life-long friendships. Encourage your child to talk to their teammates. To help your child begin to forge relationships, encourage them to play catch before practice starts, meet on off-days to work on skills, or get together to play at each other’s houses.


If your child is in middle school or older or is in a cheerleading or football program, and they plan to play an organized sport, they will need a sports physical this year. IHA Pediatrics performs Sports Physicals 6 days a week.  You do not have to be an IHA patient to schedule. Visit ihacares.com/pedsappts and select an “office visit” appointment at a time that works for you and your family.

We are also offering extra availability on the following Saturdays. Call your IHA Pediatric Practice to schedule:

• Saturday, June 12, 2021 | 8:30 am – 12:00 pm

• Saturday, July 17, 2021 | 8:30 am – 12:00 pm

Active Kids!

Age-based physical activities for children

Kids need physical activity to grow up strong and healthy! All children should be physically active every day, and kids over 6 years old should be moving enough get their heart rate up at least one hour a day. Read on for guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how often your child should be active based on their age.

Infants:
Activity: Tummy time while awake.
Frequency: 30+ minutes throughout the day.

Toddlers:
Activity: Neighborhood walks or free play outside.
Frequency: 3+ hours throughout day.

Preschoolers:
Activity: Tumbling, throwing and catching.
Frequency: 3+ hours a day including 1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity.

Elementary Students:
Activity: Free play and organized sports focused on fun.
Frequency: 60+ minutes of activity most days. Muscle/bone strengthening activities 3 days a week.

Middle Schoolers:
Activity: Activities that encourage socialization. Avoid specializing in one sport.
Frequency: 60+ minutes of activity most days. Muscle/bone strengthening 3 days a week.

Teenagers:
Activity: Activities that encourage socialization and competition when appropriate.
Frequency: 60+ minutes of activity most days. Muscle/bone strengthening 3 days a week.


It’s time for sports physicals

IHA Pediatrics performs Sports Physicals 6 days a week. You do not have to be an IHA patient to schedule. Visit ihacares.com/pedsappts and select an office appointment at a time that works for you and your family.

We are also offering extra availability on the following Saturdays. Call your IHA Pediatric Practice to schedule: ihacares.com/pediatrics

• Saturday, May 22 | 8:30 am – 12:00 pm

• Saturday, June 12 | 8:30 am – 12:00 pm

• Saturday, July 17 | 8:30 am – 12:00 pm

Kids and the COVID-19 Vaccine

What parents want to know

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be used to vaccinate children ages 12-15. While this is encouraging news and yet another step toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that parents may have questions about the vaccine. IHA supports the scientific data behind this most recent vaccine and fully supports vaccination as the best way to end the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, with more than 261.5 million doses administered in the United States. Vaccinating this age group will help kids get back to their normal lives including school, sports and more, while keeping high-risk family members and others safe. Read on for answers to the most frequently asked questions around children and the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have additional questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatric provider.

How safe is the mRNA vaccine? The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are safe and effective.*

• The mRNA vaccine technology is not new for COVID19. We were able to get to this point quickly because this vaccine has actually been in development for years

• It was first developed during the 2003 SARS outbreak. Scientists were able to adjust the vaccine they had been creating back then

• In early 2000s we were not successful since mRNA breaks down VERY quickly and it needed to be transported by something. Finding that something has been a challenge until now. Scientists tried fat bubbles for COVID19, and it worked! • mRNA is more than just DNA’s lesser-known cousin, RNA plays a role in turning on information for your body’s proteins. This remarkable molecule can carry the instructions (messenger RNA or mRNA)

• Scientists believe an mRNA vaccine could be safer for us compared to traditional vaccines because they are NOT made up of the actual pathogen. This means that, unlike traditional vaccines, they do not contain weakened, dead, or noninfectious parts of a virus. They contain only the instruction manuals to tell cells how to fight COVID19. You cannot get COVID19 from the vaccine since it’s just instructions on how to fight it.

• The other cool thing about mRNA vaccines is that they quickly degraded in the body. After it does its job boosting your immunity against COVID19, it is gone. It cannot insert itself into human DNA.

• Even though everyone can react differently, the boosting immunity part is why many feel common side effects of fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, tried or achy for a day or two. These are all normal signs that tell you your immune system is working to build up the fight against COVID19, even in kids.

• Only time can tell us, but since the mRNA technology degrades itself after sending its message and mounting an immune response, it gives scientist confidence that there will not be long term side effects. From the many years of vaccine experience, we do know it’s rare to see concerning side effects happen after six weeks in any vaccine.

*Source: PHG Foundation

My Child had COVID-19. Do they still need the vaccine? Yes.

• The vaccine strengthens your immune response

• The vaccine protects better against variants than natural immunity

• The natural immunity is not as effective as the vaccine and it goes down after a few months

• Checking antibody titers is not very helpful since we don’t know enough. We cannot say for sure even if you have antibodies that you are fully immune, which variants are included or who long the immunity will last.

Does COVID-19 really affect kids? Yes.

• Children account for 22.4% of COVID cases

• Children make, on average, 13.8% (or 3.78 million total cases) of all COVID19 cases in the U.S. But this is changing. According the American Academy of Pediatrics, last week children accounted for 22.4% of cases (71,649 out of 319,601 COVID diagnoses). Just one year ago, pediatric cases made up 3% of U.S. cases.

• Some studies have reported 25% of children suffered persistent symptoms after COVID and many can have prolonged symptoms of fatigue with increased physical activity.

*Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Should I be concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine and infertility? No.

• There has not been any data to support concerns regarding infertility.

• In early December 2 scientists in Europe were part of freedom movement that raised concerns that the one of the COVID virus proteins could interfere with the placenta. However, there was no research or evidence to back up this claim. We now know that COVID virus protein does not cause infertility. If fact, due to the pandemic, the rate of pregnancy has increased along with the number of COVID cases! If a disease doesn’t have the potential to cause concern, neither does the vaccine.

Click here to learn more from Paul Offit, MD, Director of Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, on why this claim is false.


Vaccine scheduling for adolescents is coming soon!

Stay updated with the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine and scheduling a vaccine for your child or yourself.