Younger kids are now eligible for the shots. Here's what parents need to know.
Approximately 28 million younger members of our society—specifically children ages 5 to 11—can now get a COVID-19 vaccine thanks to the emergency use authorization granted to Pfizer-BioNTech's child-size dose of the vaccine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the green light after reviewing data of a 10 microgram dose given to children in this age group. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously to recommend use of the vaccine for children in the 5 to 11 age group.
Here are answers to common questions about these vaccines.
What are the details of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11?
Children in this age group are eligible to receive a 10 microgram dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This is one-third the dose given to people ages 12 and over. The vaccine will be given in two doses, spaced three weeks apart. Children will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose. No other vaccine is currently authorized for children of this age at this time.
Is the vaccine safe for kids this young?
Clinical-trial data from 2,268 participants shows that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for children in this age group. Although a very small risk of myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle) has been linked to mRNA vaccines in general, no one in the trial developed this condition. The vaccine is also about 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in 5- to 11-year-olds.
Are vaccine side effects the same in 5- to 11-year-olds as in older kids and adults?
Pfizer states that side effects from the vaccine, especially fever, were much less common in this age group than in older kids, teens and young adults (ages 16 to 25).
Where can kids get COVID-19 vaccines?
These vaccines will be available in retail pharmacies, pediatrician's offices, children's hospitals, vaccine clinics and other locations. You can search online or check government websites like vaccines.gov to find out where the vaccine is being given near you.
Why vaccinate young children against COVID-19?
The CDC estimates that about 38% of children ages 5 to 11 in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19. This is more than the percentage of adults infected. Although many infections in kids are mild, some kids are becoming seriously ill from this virus. Also, since children often have mild or no symptoms, many infections in this age group go undiagnosed while the virus spreads. The CDC estimates that in September 2021, 6.2 children were infected for every case diagnosed.
What should you do if you have questions or concerns about vaccinating your kids?
It's understandable that some people may not be sure about giving their kids a COVID-19 vaccine. It should be helpful to know that the FDA and CDC don't take their review lightly when it comes to approving or recommending vaccines. After reviewing the data, they feel the vaccines are safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11. The best thing to do if you're on the fence about giving your kids this vaccine is to do your research (legitimate sites only) and to talk to your pediatrician or another health care professional who you trust.
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Date Last Reviewed: November 2, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD