EAST STROUDSBURG – Families can now schedule Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for children age 5-11 years at least five months after their initial vaccine series. This is in response to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizing the booster shot for this age group on Tuesday, May 17, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsing it on Thursday, May 19. The initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine series was previously authorized for children in this age range in November 2021.

Booster shots are known to provide renewed protection against COVID-19, as research has shown that like vaccines for other illnesses, the protection from the primary COVID-19 vaccine series wanes over time (especially as new variants emerge).

While children are less likely to be severely affected by COVID-19 than individuals in other age groups, they can still become infected, experience symptoms from the disease, lose days from school and other activities, and, in some cases, need to be hospitalized.

“Data suggest that levels of protection from the initial series can decrease with time, even in children age 5-11,” says J. Nathan Hagstrom, MD, Chair, Department of Pediatrics at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital. “Preliminary research by Pfizer-BioNTech showed that the booster shot significantly increased the level of neutralizing antibodies against both the original version of the virus and the omicron variant in this age group.”

Possible side effects of booster shots

The booster shot is the same strength as the first two shots in the initial vaccine series. The most common side effects of the booster vaccine are mild and resolve within a few days. They include:

· Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
· Fatigue
· Headache
· Muscle or joint pain
· Chills
· Swollen lymph nodes in the underarm

How to schedule

Boosters for children in this age group are available by appointment only at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN)’s vaccination clinics. In addition to the Lehigh-Pocono clinic in East Stroudsburg, appointments can be made at LVHN’s facilities in Hazleton, Pottsville,  Easton, and Whitehall.

Some Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG) Pediatrics practices also offer COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. Check with your child’s health care provider’s office for COVID-19 vaccine availability.

There are two easy ways to schedule booster appointments for children in this age range at either the vaccine clinics or participating practices:

1. Go to MyLVHN, the health network’s patient portal:

Sign In or Sign Up
You will need proxy access to your child’s MyLVHN account to schedule through the patient portal. If you do not have proxy access, please contact your child’s health care provider. If your child does not have an LVHN provider, please call 888-402-LVHN (5846).

2. Call LVHN’s COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 833-584-6283 (833-LVHN-CVD) Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

For more vaccination information, visit LVHN.org/vaccines.

 

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