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Vanderbilt pediatrician urges parents to give kids COVID and flu shots together

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Posted at 6:30 AM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 07:57:14-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A pediatrician at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt encourages parents to give eligible kids the flu and COVID-19 shots during the same appointment, saying it is safe and will save parents a trip to the doctor.

Vanderbilt at Children’s Pediatric Primary Care Clinic Medical Director Dr. Kate Carlson explained, "We have a lot of good safety data for both vaccines, and we have a lot of safety data for administering... different vaccines, together. We know that they're effective, that they are not more likely to have reactions, and we know that they're still likely to be they're still going to be effective at producing an antibody response."

She said what they are asking parents to do in regard to giving their child multiple shots in one day, is not something new.

"We have been giving the COVID-19 vaccine to kids aged 12 and up, since the middle of May, and that means we've also been giving the COVID-19 vaccine with other standard adolescent vaccines for almost six months," said Carlson. "So, we have a lot of experience, giving that vaccine with other vaccines... we've had no difficulties with those. We've had no patients calling back with any concerns about them at all."

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Vanderbilt at Children’s Pediatric Primary Care Clinic Medical Director Dr. Kate Carlson

Carlson explained since the fall 2021 school year started, she and other pediatricians at Vanderbilt have seen a certain uptick in capacity at their clinics and in their hospital.

"20% of the pediatric cases of COVID since the pandemic started, have been within the month that schools started. So, it is affecting kids now," stated Carlson.

"The delta variant is definitely more infectious. It is much more likely to be contagious. We see it running through households, much more than we did before," she said, saying they have been "overwhelmed" for capacity at times.

"Before, with the initial COVID variants that we would see, the parents got it and then the kids would not get it in the house or if the kids do get it, they wouldn't really have any symptoms," said Carlson. "Now, what we're seeing is one person gets it, many times it's the child bringing it home from school, and then it goes through the entire house. Very different than what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic."

There is also a concern too many kids have fallen behind in their regular immunizations due to limited visits to the doctor for many kids last year.

"[Parents,] make sure that you're staying up to date on general well child checks, getting standard immunizations," pleaded Carlson. "There are immunizations that are due, up through 18 months, and then again at four [years old] and 11. And at 16."

While the COVID shot is still not approved for children under 11 years old, Carlson said those parents should not wait to pair the vaccinations.

"We have the flu vaccine... for everyone: six months and older now. Get them their flu vaccine so that they're protected before Halloween. So we say flu before 'Boo!'" said Carlson. "We want to get them protected as early as possible for the child's benefit."

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Outside Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee.