Now that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for kids ages 5-11, parents throughout New Jersey are making vaccination appointments for their kids. Last week, after the FDA gave its okay for the vaccine for 5-to-11-year-olds, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) did a review and shared key takeaways for parents as well as the medical community.

The ACIP is an external scientific advisory board to the CDC made up of pediatricians, clinicians, researchers, epidemiologists, and professors around the country. Above all, the ACIP unanimously determined the vaccine for kids ages 5-11 is safe and effective.

Among the ACIP’s key findings:

The vaccination should not be delayed. If, for example, an 11-year-old has a birthday coming up, they should not wait for a higher dosage. Getting a vaccine as soon as possible is of the utmost importance.

COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to the timing of other vaccines. This includes getting a COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines on the same day. If multiple vaccines are administered at a single visit, administer each injection in a different injection site.

Children should get the vaccine regardless of underlying health conditions. Among pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations, 32 percent of children did not have underlying health conditions. Severe COVID-19 disease seems to be very random for children.

Children should get the vaccine regardless of previously recovering from COVID-19. An estimated 38 percent of children aged 5–11 years have detectable antibodies from natural infection. This is higher than estimates among adults. But natural immunity, on a population level, is insufficient in protecting kids.

Children should get a vaccine even if they have a positive antibody test. This is because of natural immunity and because antibody testing can’t determine when a person was infected so we don’t know if and when antibodies are waning.

The 5-11 vaccine is different than for 12+ year-olds. It’s a different dosage and is not dependent on a child’s size or weight. As opposed to medications, vaccine dosages are based on the maturity of the immune system. The dosage should be based on the child’s age on the day of vaccination.

If you’re planning to vaccinate your child between ages 5-11, be sure to register for V-Safe, the CDC’s website that makes it easy for you to tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting the vaccine.

If you’re on the fence or not planning to get the vaccine, the ACIP advises you to have a conversation with your child’s pediatrician.

Walter Rosenfeld, MD, chair of Pediatrics at Goryeb Children’s Hospital and medical director of Children’s Health for Atlantic Health System, said Atlantic Health believes getting as many individuals as possible vaccinated against COVID-19 is an important part of improving the health of our communities.

“Any parent or guardian with questions about the vaccine and its appropriateness for their child should contact their pediatrician or family medicine physician, who remains their best source for health information,” Rosenfeld said.

The above data was excerpted from Your Local Epidemiologist and the ACIP.