CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Kids across the Capital Region have been getting their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since the beginning of November. Local pediatrician Dr. Jim Saperstone from Community Care Pediatrics in Guilderland can’t emphasize enough how important it is to vaccinate the 5-11 age group ASAP.

“You can give the COVID-19 vaccine to children at the same time they get the flu vaccine or any other vaccines, there’s no need to wait,” said Dr. Saperstone.

In late October, the FDA authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11. Pfizer is the only vaccine available to this age group and health experts continue to say the vaccine is safe and effective. According to data from the New York State Department of Health, over 2,500 Albany County kids in the 5-11 age group have already received their first COVID-19 dose. Dr. Saperstone says the availability isn’t the issue, it’s easing the minds of the parents, he says has been the real challenge.

Many moms and dads are skeptical about the COVID shot and wonder what the risks are leaving their children unvaccinated. State health experts say those who are unvaccinated have the greatest risk of infection and severe disease from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. This is true for individuals of all ages, including children.

There have been many questions about the dose amount. Children 5 – 11 will receive a smaller dose than adults and adolescents 12 and older. Dr. Saperstone says it’s rare for a child to get the wrong dosage and it won’t necessarily affect them. “…This is very rare, if they get a full dose, it’s not the end of the world either, you can’t boost the immune system enough.”

Also, parents want to know the possible side effects after their kid gets the shot. the effects all differ depending on the child. “Like any shot, there’s a little bit of redness in the arm, there’s a little bit of fever, there’s achiness, nothing major. So you can expect the same effect with other vaccines,” said Dr. Sapertstone.