Earlier this month, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the state of Ohio would lower the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to all children 16 and older on Monday, March 29.
With almost 15% of the population fully vaccinated and nearly 25% with at least one shot — and the numbers climbing daily — is this our shot at getting back to some form of normalcy?
Dr. Rob McGregor, the hospital’s chief medical officer, sheds some light on what these vaccinations mean for families, who they protect and whether getting our lives back is on the horizon.
When does a person reach full immunity after receiving a vaccine?
The 2 most common COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) offer an effective rate up to 95% starting about 2 weeks after the second dose of the vaccine.
In clinical trails, the vaccine showed some protection prior to that time point, but it was greatly reduced compared to 2 weeks after receiving the second dose.
The recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine also takes at least 2 weeks after the injection for patients to reach full protection.
So until you reach full immunity, safety precautions must be taken to protect yourself from a COVID-19 infection. You should continue to wear a mask in public, socially distance and wash your hands frequently.
Does a COVID-19 vaccine provide protection for others or does it only protect the person that received it?
The person who received a vaccination is relatively protected (between a 75% to 95% reduction in risk) from contracting COVID-19, especially from developing a severe or deadly case.
As for whether the vaccine protects against others you’re hanging out with, say elderly grandparents or your children, there’s increasing evidence your risk for spreading it asymptomatically is dramatically decreased. Some studies suggest an 80% decrease in asymptomatic transmission after being vaccinated.
When vaccines are available for kids under 16, will they receive the same dose as adults?
Moderna and Pfizer are actually studying that right now. They’re testing to find out the right dose for younger children, school age and adolescents.
Moderna has 2 separate studies going on right now. One is for ages 6 months to 12 years and the other is 12 to 17 years. In the 6 months to 12 years trial, they’re testing 25 micrograms and 50 micrograms verses 100 micrograms, which is the amount in the adult dose.
The question they’re trying to answer is can we use half the dose for kids and still get the same response and effectiveness as the adult dose?
Are the rates of COVID-19 infection for kids dropping?
Yes, what we’re finding is as the rates of infections have dropped over the last several weeks, we have fewer children in the hospital sick with COVID-19. That includes the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). The MIS-C has decreased so much so that we probably only have 1 or 2 patients admitted daily, as opposed to 5 to 7 that we had about 3 weeks ago. So, that’s great news.
As cases continue to drop, do you think kids should still get the vaccine?
It’s understandable to think why would parents vaccinate a child who if they got sick would most likely have a mild illness? The reason is to prevent the disease altogether, reduce MIS-C in children and help stop the spread. While children are at reduced risk of a severe COVID-19 infection, some children have developed dangerous and prolonged complications.
The vaccine is much safer than COVID-19. With the vaccine, kids risk short-term side effects. Without the vaccine, they risk long-term health complications and organ damage from COVID-19. So, yes, when it becomes available to children, they should be vaccinated.
Learn more about Akron Children’s public vaccination program and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Read part 2 in this series: Part 2: Is the COVID-19 vaccine our shot to getting back to some normalcy?