ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Starting April 6, New Yorkers ages 16 and up are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Many parents wonder if the vaccine is safe for their children. NEWS10’s sister station in Rochester put that question and others to Dr. Mathew Devine, the Medical Director at Highland Family Medicine.

What is the latest on vaccine in children?

Starting Tuesday, April 6, children at the age of 16 and up in New York are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The 16-17 age group will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine only. Adults 18 or over can get any of the approved vaccines at this time.

Are the vaccines safe for kids that age?

Yes, they are. These vaccines have been tested using the same research process that was performed earlier for the initial rollout for these vaccines. Studies are ongoing but the results are showing fewer potential side effects and better prevention of being fully protected from COVID-19 once vaccinated.

Do kids sign up the same way adults do, or do they go through their pediatrician?

Most office practices do not have vaccines at this time. Therefore, sign-ups are similar to the adult process. Using the state website will help explain the signup process. For the 16 and 17-year-olds, they do need consent from their parents to get the vaccine.

When it comes to side effects/risks, are there different concerns for kids vs. adults?

Side effects from the vaccine are still minimal and the risks are low in all populations. The highest risks are body aches and soreness from the vaccination site. Children will still need to be observed after their injections and will still need two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

What about kids under 16? When might they be eligible? What needs to happen first?

Preliminary studies of the Moderna vaccine were effective and safe in children 12-15. Additional studies are starting on the under 12 age group. The emergency use process has started and as soon as granted by the FDA then this can be rolled out to these age groups.

Why is this important?

Monroe County still has around a 2% rate of COVID cases in the community. These cases are now affecting a younger group since the older populations have been vaccinated. With some of the strains of COVID-19, we need to continue to vaccinate as many as quickly as possible. With ongoing social distancing measures, this will help to get our rates down to avoid a fourth surge locally as seen in other parts of the country.