As parents await under 5 vaccine, pediatrician shares tips on how to choose the right option for your child

Parents of toddlers and preschoolers may soon have to choose whether their child should get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Dr. Christina Johns, a pediatric emergency physician and senior medical advisor at "PM Pediatric Care," the country's largest urgent care provider, says both vaccines were effective at preventing severe illness in children under 5 in clinical studies.

"I absolutely encourage everyone to speak to their child's pediatrician," Dr. Johns says.  "Lean into their expertise, so you can really have an individualized, customized discussion about what makes sense for your family and for your child."

The Pfizer vaccine is a 3-dose series, with the doses spread out over 3 months.

The Moderna vaccine is two shots, given a month apart. 

So, Dr. Johns says, think about your priorities.

"So, will a child be vaccinated in time for, say, going back to preschool in the fall, if they're taking the summer off, or does the child need to get to that higher protection level sooner because they're in daycare, and parents are working, or there is a vulnerable person in the home," Johns says.  "All of these are variables to consider."

And, what about side effects?

"The most common side effects were mild ones, such as tenderness at the injection site, some fatigue, and very few fevers," she says.  "The younger generation tends to do quite well tolerating the vaccine, in general, and the data certainly played out that way."

Children will not be considered fully vaccinated until they are at least 2 weeks out from their final dose.

So, Dr. Johns says, if you're planning a summer trip or get-together, take other precautions, like having everyone take a rapid at-home COVID-19 test before gathering together.

"Masking still works, so don't forget about that," she says.  "Good hand hygiene, keeping activities outside, these are all important measures we can still deploy right now to keep our young children safe."

If you are planning to travel with a younger child who is not fully vaccinated, Dr. Johns says, you may want to consider a road trip rather than flying.

"As far as travel goes, this is where it can get a little bit trickier, because the very young children are not able to mask," Dr. Johns says.  "So, you may want to try to think hard about whether or not you want to get on an airplane.  Is there another way you can travel to reach your destination?"