KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Children between six months and five years old are now eligible to get vaccinated for Covid-19 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all eligible groups get the vaccine.
The Knox County Health Department echoed that message but added you should have a conversation with your child's doctor if you are skeptical about the vaccine.
“Children have died from Covid,” KCHD's Director of Nursing Dena Mashburn said. “It's a lot less than that older population, but that's important to consider when you're looking at the risks and the benefits of the vaccine.”
Mashburn added the vulnerable people your child is exposed to, such as grandparents or immunocompromised family members, should also be considered before deciding whether or not to vaccinate your child for Covid-19.
The first vaccines became available in December 2020 for healthcare workers, first responders and long-term care facility staff and residents. About 18 months later, young children became eligible for the vaccine.
Knox County health providers received shipments for young children in mid-June. Mashburn said parents should consider their family’s needs as four and five-year-olds near kindergarten.
“How much exposure are they getting right now? Who are they coming home to regularly? Who lives in the home with them? Are they visiting or staying with grandma regularly?” Mashburn asked. “Those sorts of things really need to be considered, and that’s very individual.”
The vax dosing works a bit differently for young children. Pfizer-BioNTech has a three-dose regimen while Moderna has a two-dose plan. Moderna's age limit is five years old, while Pfizer's is four.
Knox County Health said children will likely get the shots in their leg, as opposed to the arm.
Symptoms include but are not limited to soreness, headache, fever, and sleepiness.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not required for schools, but parents should schedule appointments with their child’s pediatrician now to get their required immunizations and ask about the vaccine if they have concerns.
KCHD recommended parents should schedule appointments now before the August rush.
The health department said they will have approximately 100 shots available for children starting June 27.
Mashburn said parents should call 865-215-5950 to schedule.