Dr Maria Boulton answers your questions about the upcoming rollout of COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11
Dr Maria Boulton has been asked plenty of questions about the upcoming rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11.
Dr Boulton is a GP and Director of Family Doctors Plus, Windsor, bringing two decades of experience to caring for families.
And she is also a mother, giving her great insights into how parents can approach vaccinations in these next few weeks. Here are some of Dr Boulton’s thoughts:
Question: What should parents understand before they take their child for a COVID-19 vaccine?
Dr Boulton: The vials for the COVID-19 vaccines for five to 11-year-olds are different to the adult vials. The dose is one-third of the adult dose and the dilution required is different. The recommended schedule for vaccination in this age group is two doses, eight weeks apart.
What should parents say to their child before they receive the COVID-19 vaccine? Are there things parents shouldn’t say to their child?
Dr Boulton: Parents should be guided by their child’s needs. In general, most children benefit from knowing what will happen. Some parents may wish to explain to their child that the needle feels sharp for a second. Some children respond well to understanding that. It may also help to explain to your children where they are going. Discuss the fact that everyone will be wearing a mask and eye protection or face shields so that they are not surprised. Parents can also bring something they know their child will like as a reward.
Should parents be concerned about their child being unvaccinated at a time when COVID-19 cases are increasing?
Dr Boulton: Queensland Health expects the peak of COVID-19 cases across the state to occur around the end of January and start of February. However, this reflects modelling that can change. There are some children who will be at a higher risk, for example those who have pre-existing health conditions. This is something that parents can discuss with their GP. GPs can also answer any questions parents may have about vaccines. I recommend that parents who have questions about the vaccines make an appointment with their child’s GP to discuss it prior to the vaccine clinic appointment. This allows more time to answer any questions.
Are there any tips for parents who may have a child who dislikes needles?
Dr Boulton: GPs and GP nurses are experienced in vaccinating people of all ages, including those who dislike needles or have needle phobias. At our clinic we request that if someone has a history of fainting following a vaccine or has a needle phobia or concerns about needles, they should book a separate appointment outside of the vaccine clinic. This will allow our staff to spend more time with the child.
Are there any side-effects to the COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age bracket (5-11)?
Dr Boulton: The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations (ATAGI) has a great resource called ATAGI recommendations on the use of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 years in Australia that address this question and contains other information regarding the vaccine. More information can also be found on our website www.familydoctorsplus.com.au or health.gov.au.
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