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COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Kids 5-11 Years Old

What parents should know

On Friday, October 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use (EUA) of the vaccine in 5- to 11-year olds, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices affirmed that decision on November 2. The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed its review of the federal process late on November 2 and unanimously concluded that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective for youth 5 to 11 years of age. The Workgroup provided its confirmation to the Governors of Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington on November 3.

Is the vaccine safe for a young child?

The FDA, CDC, ACIP and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup all reviewed the clinical data closely to evaluate the vaccine's safety and effectiveness in younger children. All came to the same conclusion, vaccinating children helps protect them from getting COVID-19 and reduces their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications. By reducing COVID-19 infection, vaccination also reduces disruptions to in-person learning and activities by helping curb community transmission. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and will continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. 

Which children are currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination?

Children aged 5-11 years can now receive a smaller dose (10 micrograms) of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Children 12-18 should receive the regular 30 microgram Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine given to adults.

How many doses does my child need?

The authorized vaccine is a 2-dose series of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine given 3 weeks apart. The dose for children age 5-11 is one-third of the dosage of the vaccine for older adolescents and adults.

How effective is the vaccine in young kids?

The lower does is equally effective in kids as the higher does is in older kids and adults. In the pediatric trial, the 10 microgram dose induced the same immune response in kids 5-11 years old as the 30 microgram dose did in adolescents/young adults with fewer side effects.

What side effects should I expect my child to experience?

Side effects experienced by 5-11-year-olds in clinical trial were very mild. Listed in order of most common:
Pain at the injection site
Fatigue
Headache
Redness at injection site
Swelling at injection site
Muscle pain

Why do children need a COVID-19 vaccine if adults around them are vaccinated?

Unvaccinated children are at risk. COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (inflammatory syndromes) and long-term complications, such as “long COVID,” in which symptoms can linger for months. The spread of the Delta variant resulted in a surge of COVID-19 cases in children throughout the summer. During a 6-week period in late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold. Additionally, children may be exposed in their day-to-day life to adults who choose not to get vaccinated. COVID-19 poses a far greater threat to children than the vaccine.

What about the risk of myocarditis post vaccination?

In clinical trials, there were 0 cases of myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle) among vaccinated 5-11-year-olds. In older adolescents (16-29), a handful of rare cases of myocarditis were reported, but it remains very uncommon, and it is almost always mild and temporary. The risk to the heart from COVID-19 for those under 16 is far greater. For children under 16 years infected with COVID-19, the risk of myocarditis is 37 times higher than those who haven’t been infected with the virus, according to a new study.
Watch Dr. Chrissy Raman's video on myocarditis

Should I wait for my child to turn 12 to get the higher dose?

The general recommendation is to get your child vaccinated as soon as possible with the appropriate dose. Children 5-11 who got the 10 microgram dose in clinical trial had an equivalent immune response to those 16-25 who received the 30 microgram dose. In some cases, this will mean the first dose is 10 micrograms and the 2nd dose is 30 micrograms.

Can my child get other vaccines when they get their COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, it is safe to get all vaccines at once, or you may choose to space them out. Just be sure to stay up to date on all recommended vaccines, including the annual flu vaccine

Where can I get my child vaccinated?

State and federal government officials are working with local pediatricians, pharmacies and health authorities to make the Pfizer age 5-11 COVID-19 vaccine available as soon as possible. Contact your pediatrician for any questions about the vaccine and to see if they administer the vaccine to those 5-11. Other options will become available at area pharmacies soon (find a vaccine provider here) as well as at the northern Nevada Community Health Alliance. A parent or guardian must accompany a minor to get a COVID-19 vaccine.