Now that COVID-19 vaccines are on the market for infants and toddlers, many parents may question, “Is there any way to safeguard my child without having to give him or her an injection?”
Over 276 vaccinations are in the works, as reported by the Milken Institute COVID-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker. Many vaccinations, including those administered orally and intranasally, are currently undergoing testing in the United States, but injectable immunization has historically been the standard since it is the most familiar to vaccine researchers and developers.
Nasal vaccinations have been approved in countries like China, India, and Russia, but the versions being developed in the United States are not yet at an acceptable stage for approval. Injectable vaccines are now the only choice, and they are recommended for use in all children and adults 6 months and older in the United States.
Because the technology behind the first-to-market injectable COVID-19 vaccines like those currently supplied by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna is so well understood, these vaccines have set the standard. Because of the critical nature of this vaccine, tried-and-true methods will yield the quickest results.
The vaccine is more likely to stay where it needs to be in the body and have an effect if it is injected. Mucosal vaccinations are vulnerable to being expelled by the body’s natural responses, such as sneezing and vomiting.
However, there are drawbacks to injectable vaccines, including lower thermostability, the danger of needlestick injuries to healthcare personnel, and the discomfort of the actual injection itself. Some people might not be vaccinated because they are too afraid of needles or the pain they cause.
Furthermore, the only type of immunity provided by this technique is systemic, which kicks in immediately after the virus has entered the bloodstream. Mucosal immunity is necessary, however, the oral and nasal routes claim to also provide systemic immunity.
Vaccinations administered through either the mouth or nose are collectively referred to as mucosal vaccines. The reason for this is that both vaccines stimulate both the mucosal and systemic immune systems.
When the virus reaches the nasal cavity or mouth, the mucosa (the lining of the nose and mouth) immune cells will respond by launching a local defense.
People can still be infected with the virus in their noses even after receiving an injection immunization. Many people don’t realize they need a mask following a vaccine. Although they could be immune to illness, they might nevertheless be spreading it through their nose.
A vaccination administered via the nose, however, might be able to prevent the spread of the disease. As a result, youngsters will be able to return to school with less concern about transmitting the illness to their classmates, teachers, or at-home vulnerable family members.
Researchers are hard at work on human-safe intranasal vaccination formulations thanks to encouraging results from animal research. One review article from 2022 claims that these SARS-CoV-2 oral and nasal vaccinations show promise as potential replacements for the currently available injectable COVID-19 vaccines.
Meissa, a biotechnology business, has had greater success with an intranasal vaccine they are developing. Further testing is required before licensing is possible, however preliminary results from a Phase 1 study that began in 2021 showed that the vaccine triggered a significant immunological response in human volunteers.
One firm testing an oral COVID-19 vaccination is iosBio (previously Stabilitech) of the United Kingdom. The company asserts that, like intranasal vaccines, this method provides mucosal immunity and systemic immunity, is thermostable, and has more community acceptance.
Some adults may prefer taking a pill rather than sticking themselves with a needle. However, it should be noted that adults with preexisting concerns concerning gut disorders or absorption issues may not be good candidates for this. 10 As an added downside, capsules are difficult for children of all ages to swallow and can cause choking in those who are younger.
How to Encourage Vaccination among Young People
Vaccines against COVID-19 are currently and for the foreseeable future only available as injections. Expert child health nurse Vanessa Anderson offers advice on how to ease the immunization process for children.
- Keeping your kid in the dark is never a good idea. Warn them it will hurt a bit but will be over quickly.
- A few days before the appointment, have a conversation about the value of vaccinations and why they are so necessary. This is especially helpful when talking to older kids about the impact COVID-19 is having on the world. Don’t forget to use age-appropriate language while explaining things to your kid.
- Make yourself available for cuddles and reassurance, and let your kid bring a beloved toy or blanket.
- Parents should be prepared to hold their child during the injection (or nasal vaccine).
- Think of rewarding your child with an exciting activity afterward so that they have something to anticipate.
- Ideally, you would visit a pediatrician or nurse who is either someone you know and trust or who specializes in treating children.