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VACCINE TEAM | Q&A on vaccinating children, mixing types of vaccines

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As we continue to watch vaccines roll out across Kentucky, we are here to answer your questions on the vaccine.

When will children be able to receive vaccinations for COVID-19?

As the number of vaccinated adults increases, children under 16 still aren’t authorized to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Children who are 16 and up can receive the Pfizer vaccine, but no one under 18 is eligible for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“Trials are ongoing now for pediatric populations,” says Dr. Melanie Swift, co-chair of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group. “Children are being vaccinated in studies now and will continue to be. There are several manufacturers that are doing pediatric trials.”

The types of vaccines for children will be the same as adults, but the difference likely will be in the dose.

“They may need a lower dose because they’re generally smaller. And they also have reactive immune systems, so they may not need as high a dose as adults to mount a robust response. Sometimes, though, children need more doses of a vaccine in order to develop that first immunity. So we will see,” says Dr. Swift.

Dr. Swift says it will probably be late summer before a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children under 16.

A friend got his first dose of Moderna. His second dose was unavailable four weeks later. Can he start over with the Pfizer vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control says the various vaccines “are not interchangeable with each other.” It says the “safety and efficacy of a mixed-product series have not been evaluated.” The CDC made this recommendation when there were just two available vaccines. However, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made using messenger RNA, a technology that delivers genetic code to cells. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a different approach to trigger an immune response.

It’s just recommended that you get your second shot of the Moderna vaccine as close to the recommended four-week interval as possible. The Centers for Disease Control says your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

The first shot allows your body to start building protection against the virus. The second shot gives your immune system a boost, increase the vaccine’s effectiveness.

You can explore this section of the Centers for Disease Control’s website to learn more about the vaccines.

Where do I go in Danville to get the vaccine?

Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville is one of the state’s regional vaccination sites. To get on a waitlist, you can signup online or call (859) 936-8350 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.

In the meantime, searching online for an appointment at one of the four pharmacies in the county offering vaccinations could also pay off.

To search and find various vaccination sites, try the state’s vaccine map or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new search tool vaccinefinder.org.

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