COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out to kids aged 12-15. Here are the answers to your questions
Children aged between 12 and 15 can now get vaccinated in Australia, with the rollout opening up to the younger age group earlier this week.
Mater Hospital infectious disease director Paul Griffin answered your questions on ABC Radio Brisbane.
Pfizer or Moderna: Which is recommended?
Children, or their parents, will have the choice of whether the child receives Moderna or Pfizer, so is there a difference and is one recommended over the other?
"Any vaccine that is approved is recommended, and both of those have approvals for people 12 years of age and over," Dr Griffin said.
"It will basically depend a little bit on where they go to get the vaccines, because where they get given out is slightly different.
Dr Griffin said both Pfizer and Moderna were mRNA vaccines and both very safe.
He said there were subtle differences, like having to wait three weeks between Pfizer shots and four weeks between Moderna shots.
Moderna will be available from next week.
What are the risks of side effects for children?
Dr Griffin said adults and children alike could expect some mild symptoms, which would not differ between age groups.
"We talk about local symptoms, like a bit of a sore arm — so the things you'd expect with any vaccines," he said.
"Then the systemic side effects are things like feeling a bit tired, maybe having a fever the night of the vaccine … very mild things that last a fairly short period of time.
What if my child has a severe allergy?
Dr Griffin said everyone administering the vaccine was trained on how to manage anaphylaxis.
"We do know, particularly the mRNA vaccines, do come with a risk of allergy, but it's still very rare," Dr Griffin said.
"Yes, we've definitely had cases of anaphylaxis in this country but they've all been managed well and none have led to any bad outcomes.
"The people who give you the vaccine at the time will talk to you about that and how they'll manage that, but it certainly shouldn't deter anybody."
Dr Griffin says it may mean children with a history of allergic reactions will be made to stay for slightly longer observation after their vaccination.
Is the impact the same for boys and girls?
New research suggests that rare cases of a condition called myocarditis could be linked to mRNA vaccines.
"What that refers to is inflammation around the heart muscles or around the heart, and again, while that's been talked about quite a bit, the rate of that is very low and it's not something that people would expect to get after the vaccine," Dr Griffin said.
"Most people recover fairly spontaneously and in a fairly short space of time with that.
"A little bit associated, maybe, with activity around the time of the vaccine — so there is some advice coming out around not overdoing it for a day or two after you get the vaccine."
What's the hospitalisation rate for under-16s?
Dr Griffin said while the rate of severe disease was low, it was not zero.
"Some really good data came out of New South Wales … a few months ago that said that the rate of hospitalisation in children was around 2 per cent," he said.
"If we were to have thousands and thousands of cases and we didn't vaccinate children, then children would get very sick, so it is a really important part of our strategy to vaccinate the children."
He said the Delta variant and south-east Queensland's recent school clusters highlighted that children could become infected and pass the virus on.
He said if or when Australia saw more COVID infections, there would be some severe cases among children.
Should children take pain relief after the vaccine?
Taking things like paracetamol is not something that Dr Griffin would recommend for every recently vaccinated person, but he said it was an option for those who experienced local or systemic side effects.
"Particularly things like feeling a bit achy or a bit sore, and the headaches," he said.
"Paracetamol works really well to control those."
He said any significant side effects should be discussed with your doctor.
How soon until there is a needle-free option for children?
Dr Griffin says this is probably a fair way off.
"I've been doing some clinical trials on intranasal vaccines and oral vaccines," he said.
Will a teen's severe reaction happen with both doses?
Dr Griffin said anyone who experiences a severe reaction should discuss that with their GP or vaccine provider.
"It really depends on which vaccine you've had," he said.
"We're in a fortunate position now where we have some options and we can change if we need to.
When will vaccines be available for even younger children?
There are overseas trials underway to test Pfizer in children younger than 12 and Dr Griffin said he expected the vaccine to become available to that age group "fairly soon".
"There is some great data emerging from children as young as six months of age," he said.
"We've been giving that to fairly young children and it's looking fairly safe and effective in those groups as well.
"So I certainly look forward to the time where people of any age can have access to a vaccine."
What about booster shots?
In Australia is not looking at boosters just yet, Dr Griffin says.
"I think everyone agrees these vaccines aren't going to provide lifetime protection and boosters will be a really important part of our strategy for a host of reasons," he said.
"Maybe to cope with a new variant if we get one that the vaccines don't protect us from, or maybe when we see clusters of transmission.
"Some countries have been using boosters for eight months [after the first vaccines], but I think the key thing we have to focus on here is we don't have enough people vaccinated the first time around to be looking at boosting people yet.