The COVID-19 vaccine for kids with asthma

As parents, you are the fierce protectors of your children. With the desire to keep your children safe during the ongoing pandemic, you may have some questions about the COVID-19 vaccine available for children 5 years and older. You may be especially concerned if your kids have underlying health conditions like asthma.

Dr. Olga Guijon, a pediatrician at CHOC’s Breathmobile asthma outreach program, answers parents’ common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for children with moderate to severe asthma.

Can my child with asthma receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine has received emergency use authorization for kids ages 5 years and older. Kids with underlying medical conditions such as asthma should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, flu vaccine and all other routine vaccinations as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to any of the vaccine’s ingredients.

How does COVID-19 affect kids with asthma?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that patients with moderate to severe asthma could be at greater risk for more serious disease. A recent study indicates children with asthma can have up to four times the risk of hospitalization following a COVID-19 diagnosis. 

Why should my kids with asthma receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Since children with underlying health conditions such as moderate to severe asthma have a greater risk of becoming seriously ill and requiring hospitalization if contracting COVID-19, they should receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. The vaccine will also protect them and those around them from community spread.

The restrictions on children’s activities, in-person learning and other socialization opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic caused a mental health crisis in this age group. The COVID-19 vaccine may give families the peace of mind to safely return to activities more fully, which will benefit their kids’ mental health tremendously.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine worsen my child’s asthma symptoms?

No. Adults with mild to severe asthma were included in clinical trials for the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccines, and they showed no difference in side effects to adults without asthma. There is no evidence to suggest that kids with asthma would respond to the COVID-19 vaccine differently than adults with asthma.

For children and teens, the only COVID-19 vaccine approved with emergency use authorization is from Pfizer-BioNTech. The common side effects include pain and swelling on the arm where the shot was given, fever, chills, fatigue and headache. The side effects are more prominent following the second dose and should ease within 24 hours.

Should my kids continue taking their asthma controller medications before and after receiving the vaccine?

Yes. It’s important that your kids continue to take their regular asthma controller medications and follow their asthma action plan before and after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no evidence to show that the COVID-19 vaccine will react to your child’s routine medications.

Should my children with asthma receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

The CDC recommends vaccine booster shots for people 18 years and older who have moderate to severe asthma.

There is still research being collected on how long COVID-19 protection lasts in children with the vaccination. Watch for guidance from the CDC regarding booster guidance for children and teens under the age of 18 years.

Can my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine at CHOC?

Pediatricians in CHOC’s primary care network are offering the vaccine to kids ages 5-11 years. Please call your pediatrician for an appointment.

Additionally, CHOC has opened a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic on our Orange campus for kids 5 years of age and older. To make an appointment, visit myturn.gov and enter CHOC Hospital’s zip code, 92868, to select our site.  

We are excited to offer the Pfizer BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens. To receive a vaccine, contact your CHOC primary care pediatrician to make an appointment.

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