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COVID Vaccines for Younger Children: What Parents Need to Know

On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include children ages 5 through 11.

The American Academy of Family Physicians has endorsed the approval. The Academy believes it will help prevent COVID-19 infection in this age group. It will also help children improve their development both emotionally and socially.

The vaccine will reduce the need for future school closures, disruptions, and quarantine times. It will also allow sports, after-school and other school-based activities to happen without the risk and anxiety connected to the virus.

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.
  • 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 out in 2 doses, 3 weeks apart. It is a lower dose (10 micrograms) than the one used for older age groups (30 micrograms).

The CDC says that, although children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, they can still:

  • Become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Get very sick from COVID-19
  • Have both short- and long-term health complications from COVID-19
  • Spread COVID-19 to others

Vaccinating children can help 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.

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 walk-in or 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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