What you need to know before getting your child vaccinated against COVID

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FILE – This October 2021, photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. (Pfizer via AP, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- In the race to get kids vaccinated for COVID-19 parents may be eagerly signing children up. Before a child’s appointment, there is some important information parents should be aware of.

The packaging for vials of Pfizer’s pediatric dose for kids 5-11 is different than the vials used to give teens and adults. Vaccinating a child with the dose intended to be used for teens or adults is not recommended because it could give the child a higher dose than approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

NEWS10 contacted Pfizer asking if vials intended for adolescents and adults could be used for kids. “No. Pediatric doses have a unique label and different cap color from the adult/adolescent vaccine to support with clear identification,” the company’s media relations office said.

“The child’s vial was designed to prevent errors occurring,” said Dr. Thomas Lombardi, system director of pharmacy for St. Peter’s Health Partners. “It’s the same vaccine but it’s mixed with a different volume.”

What does that mean? Kids’ doses are a third of the dose for adolescents and adults. A kid’s dose is 10 micrograms, the dose for adolescents or adults is 30 micrograms. Both vials have multiple doses in them and have to be mixed with a certain amount of saline before being administered. Once mixed a 0.2 milliliter (mL) dose is given to kids 5-11.

A 0.2 mL dose from a vial intended for adolescents or adults would actually be 20 micrograms or twice the recommended dose, explained Dr. Lombardi. “That’s why it’s designed separately. Specifically to avoid errors of giving an overdose,” he said.

How can parents protect children from a potential overdose? Kid’s doses come from an orange top vial, whereas adolescent or adult doses come from a purple top vial. Dr. Lombardi said if parents have concerns they should ask about vial color.

“Simply asking ‘Did it come from the orange top vial?’ and then checking or asking what the dose was. Both the volume and the actual dose. The dose is 10 micrograms, the volume is .2 mL’s.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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