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COVID Vaccines for Younger Children: What Parents Need to Know

In October 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11. Pfizer-BioNTech is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in this age group.

The American Academy of Family Physicians, CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics agree the vaccine is safe and effective, and recommend all children receive the vaccine when eligible. Vaccination against COVID-19 in this age group, coupled with masking and distancing, will help reduce the need for future school closures, education disruptions, and quarantine times, which impact their emotional and social development.

Path to Improved Health

The FDA says there are some key points parents need to be aware of:

  • Effectiveness: Immune responses of children 5 through 11 years of age were similar to those in the 16 to 25 age group. The vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in the younger age group. It was 100% effective in preventing hospitalization and death.
  • Safety: The vaccine’s safety was studied in around 3,100 children aged 5 to 11 who were found to have had no serious side effects.
  • Cost: The COVID-19 vaccination is being provided free of charge to all people living in the United States.

Things to Consider

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children is being given in 2 doses, 3 weeks apart. It is a lower dose (10 micrograms) than the one used for older age groups (30 micrograms).

With the newer variants, there is evidence that children can become very sick from COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization. Children can also have long-term complications from COVID-19 even with a mild or asymptomatic infection.

Vaccinating children can also protect family members. This includes siblings who may be too young to get vaccinated and family members who may have an increased risk of getting sick if they are infected.

Children ages 5-11 who have moderate to severe immunosuppression can receive an additional (3rd) dose of the Pfizer vaccine to ensure they have adequate protection.

If you want more information on the vaccine or to schedule an appointment, you can:

  • Check with your child’s family doctor about whether they offer the vaccination.
  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if appointments are available for children.
  • Contact your state, territorial, local, or tribal health department for more information.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • Is my child old enough to receive the vaccine?
  • What are some of the possible side effects of the vaccine?
  • Is the vaccine dangerous?
  • What can happen if I don’t get my child vaccinated?

Resources

The Centers for Disease Control: COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: COVID-19 Vaccines

 

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