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Des Moines doctor shares what to expect from COVID vaccine for kids 5 and under

Some side effects, such as soreness and minor swelling, are to be expected.

URBANDALE, Iowa — Pharmacies across Iowa have started giving out the COVID vaccine to kids as young as six months old, and parents might be wondering what they need to know about them. 

For starters, those little shots can actually have a big impact in the fight against COVID.

"Those younger kids may attend day care, may attend other gatherings. They're always vulnerable, so doing the vaccine down to this young age will help us fight the COVID epidemic, and hopefully we'll see an end to it as soon as possible," said Dr. Mustafa Eldadah, a pediatrician with MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center.

Pharmacies like Medicap Pharmacy in Urbandale started administering the first COVID shots to kids between six months and 5 years old on Tuesday. 

Mazie Stillwell brought her son, George, in to receive the shot. She said it was a pretty easy decision for her to make.

"It's just a big relief to be able to give him that same level of protection that we've had and to be able to get closer to something like normal life for our family," Stilwell said.

Many parents might have experienced side effects when they first got the COVID vaccine themselves. Kids might see some, too, and doctors say that's totally normal. Fortunately, they should be pretty minor.

Starting Tuesday, June 21, 2022, the Health Department will start vaccinating children six months and older with the...

Posted by Polk County Health Department on Monday, June 20, 2022

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"Redness or swelling at the site of the ingestion injection. There could be some malaise, fussiness, poor appetite, or some fever for the first day or two after the vaccine," Eldadah added.

If your child is experiencing any side effects, Eldadah recommends a simple treatment like Tylenol for any soreness and fluids to keep the little ones well-hydrated. For parents like Stilwell, side effects weren't much of a concern.

According to the CDC, more than 400 kids four years old or younger have died from COVID. But now that George is vaccinated, Stilwell said it's a huge weight off her shoulders.

"Parents of kids under five have been told for over a year now that these were coming, and we've had so many false alarms, and so many false hopes. And so it's been a really long time getting to this day," she said.

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