Q&A on vaccinations for kids aged 3-5 in Shanghai

Yang Meiping
Here are answers to some pertinent questions as Shanghai's children, aged between 3 and 5, get ready for their first COVID-19 vaccination.
Yang Meiping

Shanghai will start reservations for vaccinating children aged between 3 and 5 from 8pm on Thursday.

The city's health commission has answered some common questions:

Q1: Why should children aged 3-5 be vaccinated against COVID-19?

A: The vaccine can help improve immunity and reduce the risk of infections, or developing severe cases and even death.

If children get infected, they may spread the virus to others. Therefore, vaccinations are of great significance for strengthening the population's immune barrier and blocking the pandemic.

Q2: Is the vaccination safe for children aged 3-5?

A: According to a State Council press conference, all the available vaccines in China, which are developed by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd and Sinovac Biotech, have been tested on those aged between 3 and 17. They have been proven to be safe for people of this age group after clinical tests and expert reviews.

Q3: What are the vaccines for children aged 3-5?

A: China has approved the emergency use of inactivated vaccines developed by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd and Sinovac Biotech against COVID-19 for people aged between 3 and 17.

All of the three kinds of vaccines require two shots with an interval of three to eight weeks for fundamental immunity.

Q4: How to book a vaccination?

A: Reservations must be made by parents or guardians. It can be made via the city's health cloud app Jiankangyun, or its mini program on WeChat, Shanghai's public service app Suishenban, and WeChat accounts of the city government and disease prevention and control center – shanghaifabu and shanghaicdc, respectively.

In case families don't have access to smart phones, they can bring their ID cards to health service centers in the subdistricts where they live to print out bar codes for the vaccination and take the shots at nearby vaccination sites.

Q5: Where to take the vaccination?

A: Parents or guardians can help the child choose any site near their home or the child's kindergarten. After registering on the Jiankangyun or Suishenban apps, you can see information about all the accessible vaccination sites.

Q6: For whom is it advisable not to take the vaccine?

A: The contraindications for inoculation in children aged 3-5 is the same as those of elders. The following groups are advised not to take the vaccine:

1. People who are allergic to any of the vaccine substances or substances used in the production of the vaccines, or who are allergic to similar vaccines;

2. People who have shown serious allergic reactions to vaccines in the past, such as acute allergies, expiratory dyspnea and angioneurotic edema;

3. People suffering from uncontrolled epilepsy or other severe nervous-system diseases, such as transverse myelitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome and demyelinating diseases;

4. People with fevers, acute diseases, uncontrolled serious chronic diseases and those who are in the acute stage of a chronic disease.

5. Other contraindications listed on descriptions of the vaccines.

Q7: Can children receive COVID-19 vaccines if they have recently taken other vaccines, such as rabies or flu shots?

A: If people have taken other vaccines recently, it is advisable to receive the COVID-19 shots 14 days after the previous inoculation.

If people have received the COVID-19 vaccine, the suggestion for a 14-day interval still holds if they want to take other jabs. However, if people need a vaccine for things such as rabies, tetanus and immune globulin after dog bites or traumas, they don't have to wait.

They can also ask medical staff at vaccination sites for more professional advice.

Q8: Can children with asthma take the vaccination?

A: If they are in a stable condition, they can have the inoculation. A delay is suggested if children are in an acute period of asthma.

Q9: Can children who are allergic to vaccines take COVID-19 shots?

A: Children who have shown serious allergic reactions to vaccines in the past or who are in the anaphylaxis phase are advised to delay the inoculation.

Those allergic to substances not included in COVID-19 vaccines, such as food or pollen, can still take the vaccines. However, observation should be strengthened and they should seek doctors' help immediately if they feel uncomfortable after inoculation.

Q10: Can children suffering from herpangina (a blister-like viral illness) be vaccinated?

A: It is suggested they delay the inoculation until they recover.

Q11: Should the children receive the vaccination if they feel uncomfortable on the reserved day?

A: If children show symptoms such as fever, cough and diarrhea or are in the acute stage of a chronic disease on the reserved day, it is suggested they postpone the vaccination and make reservations again after recovery.

Q12: What pre-vaccination precautions should children take?

A: Don't go on an empty stomach. Please wear loose clothes, which will be convenient for the inoculation.

Parents and guardians should tell doctors at vaccination sites about the children's health condition and history of diseases, including the medicines they have taken before the vaccination.

Keep masks on throughout the stay at the vaccination site and maintain social distance with others to avoid crowding.

Parents should also make sure children wear enough clothes to prevent respiratory infection. Take good care of the kids and keep them quiet at the vaccination sites.

Q13: What materials should be brought along when going for the vaccination?

A: Children need to be accompanied by parents or guardians and bring along their ID cards or hukoubu (book of registered permanent residency), as well as their vaccination certificates.

They need to show the bar codes they received when booking the vaccination and sign an informed consent form before inoculation.

Q14: Are there any post-vaccination suggestions?

A: Children need to stay at the vaccination sites for a 30-minute medical observation. Parents should keep an eye on their children's health condition. If they show any adverse reaction, they should report them to the vaccination sites and children's kindergarten and take them to hospital in time.

Children are advised not to swim or take bath on the vaccination day. They should take more rest to avoid overexertion, have a light diet, drink more water and keep the skin of the inoculation area clean. It's better to avoid hectic exercises for a week after the vaccination.

Even after the shot, they should take proper personal protection measures, including wearing masks, washing hands regularly and keeping social distance.

Q15: Do children need to maintain a diet after vaccination?

A: After vaccination, doctors always remind people to avoid stimulant food such as peppers or seafood like fish and shrimp so as to reduce the risk of discomfort they might cause, such as allergy. If children are not allergic to seafood or habitually eat spicy stuff like chili, they can have their normal diet.

Q16: Are there any adverse reactions after having the vaccine?

A: Based on the results of preliminary clinical trials of the vaccines and information collected during their use, adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are similar to those of other widely used vaccines. These include redness, swelling, induration and ache in the place of injection, fever, fatigue, nausea, headaches and muscle pain.

These symptoms go away for most people without medical intervention. If necessary, people can contact the vaccination sites for instructions on treatment.

Q17: Are there any special precautions suggested for children aged 3-5?

A: Children aged 3-5 are young and vivacious, and need more patience and care during the vaccination. Staff should watch out for children's reaction and create an environment that is as relaxed, amiable and comfortable as possible.

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