By Raetta Holdman

DENVER (CBS4) – With full CDC and FDA approval, hospitals and doctors’ offices are making appointments to give children ages 5 to 11 the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, but many parents still have lots of questions.

CBSN Denver’s Makenzie O’Keefe had a chance to talk about those concerns with Dr. Reginald Washington, the chief medical officer at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

“The COVID virus is continuing to wreak havoc in all parts of the world, all parts of the country and even in Colorado,” he said. “The vaccine is another tool in our toolkit, it helps mitigate the COVID virus.”

O’Keefe asked him about the thought that young children don’t need the vaccine because they don’t get as sick from the virus.

“It is true that most children who get COVID do not require hospitalization. They may be sick for a few days but unfortunately we can’t predict who’s going to do well and who’s not. We have seen several children throughout the pandemic admitted to the hospital, sent to the intensive care unit. Hopefully this will prevent that occurrence.”

“I would certainly encourage parents to think about the side effects of the vaccine versus the side effects of the COVID virus.”

Washington did address those side effects saying that they are much the same as we’ve seen in adults. “Sore arm, slight fever, maybe a little headache for the first several hours after receiving the vaccine. Fortunately, we haven’t seen by the data that’s been shared with us that the side effects are more serious and that no one’s required hospitalization. No one has come down with myocarditis that everyone is worried about.”

If children do have side effects, it is okay to give them over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol, Advil or Aleve but Washington said not to give it before the shots and only afterwards if the child has symptoms.

He also reminded parents that no one can get COVID from the vaccine. Right now, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children between 5 and 11.

“It is two shots, three weeks apart. The good news is that overall dosage is much less than used in an adult and the needle is smaller so hopefully the children won’t even experience any pain when they receive the injection.”

“We feel it is very safe and very effective, over 90% protection,” Washington said.

O’Keefe also asked if masks will be necessary after children get vaccination. Washington said it really depends on the situation.

“If they are in a crowded environment, particularly indoors, we feel everyone, adults as well as children, should be wearing a mask. If they’re outdoors, that’s a little different.”

“Certainly if they’re going to visit relatives and those relatives have high risk conditions, they’re immunosupressed, they have chronic conditions, children as well as adults would wear masks around those individuals.”

He also said if you are in a crowded event like a sports event, everyone should wear a mask, pointing out the vaccine does not protect you 100% but should keep those vaccinated from getting very sick.

Raetta Holdman