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Healthwatch 16: Kids under 5 are now eligible for COVID vaccines

Despite parent concerns, Geisinger's doctor said the COVID-19 vaccines can "help keep them healthy long term."

DANVILLE, Pa. — Around 17 million kids under the age of 5 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. This comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control signed off on vaccinations for that age group over the weekend.

Dr. Stacey Cummings, Vice-Chair of Outpatient Pediatrics at Geisinger, said she has been "pleasantly surprised" by the number of inquiries they received since the announcement Saturday afternoon.

While many parents have concerns about children under five getting this vaccine, Dr. Cummings assures them it is safe.

"They are littler kids. In some ways, they are more prepped and able to respond to the vaccine. We know how they respond to many other vaccines. This is just one of the ones that are going to help keep them healthy long term," Dr. Cummings said.

Dr. Cummings is still seeing children with COVID-19. She says while many kids are fine, it is more serious for others.

"They get admitted to the hospital. They may go to the ICU. They may have long-term ramifications that we still don't know what the final outcome is for them. This is a great way to lessen their chance of getting those things," she said.

The doses are smaller for children under the age of 5. The Pfizer vaccine requires three shots, while Moderna requires two. Dr. Cummings says side effects are expected to be the same as adults.

"In the early studies, fatigue was one of the higher side effects in the little kids, even higher than fever. Of course, local site irritation and redness after a vaccine is pretty expected as well."

Geisinger is currently scheduling vaccines for this age group. The first doses will begin Saturday.

RELATED: Biden celebrates COVID shots for kids under 5

Watch more stories about the coronavirus pandemic on WNEP's YouTube page.

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