Pediatric Vaccine Q&A
Information last updated 11/4/2021
On Friday, Oct. 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 to include children 5 through 11 years of age.
- Is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective for young recipients (5-11 years old)?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), clinical trials have shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infection in children ages 5-11. Vaccinations may help keep children from spreading COVID-19 to others and can also help keep your child from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19. From a safety perspective, the vaccine has undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
- How many doses are required for the pediatric population (5-11 years old) and over what timeframe?
The vaccine series for children 5-11 years old is two doses given 3 weeks (21 days) apart. It is recommended that you make your child’s appointment for the second dose at the time of the first dose appointment.
- What are the most common side effects from the vaccine in children ages 5-11 years old?
Commonly reported side effects in clinical trials included injection site pain (sore arm), redness and swelling, fatigue, headache, muscle and/or joint pain, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and decreased appetite. More children reported side effects after the second dose than after the first dose. Side effects were generally mild to moderate in severity and occurred within two days after vaccination, and most went away within one to two days.
Pain relievers are not recommended before vaccination to try to prevent side effects.
- Is the dosage for children ages 5-11 years old the same as what is administered to adults and teens?
No. Each dose is 10 micrograms, which is one-third of the dose used in adults and teens. This recommended dosage has been found to be highly effective in protecting young recipients against COVID-19. This vaccine is NOT interchangeable with the vaccine for individuals 12 years old and older.
- What safety measures are in place to ensure my child receives the appropriate dosage?
To avoid confusion, the formulation for children ages 5-11 years old is packaged with an orange label and orange cap, while the vaccine for adults is packaged with a purple label and purple cap. Our team members who administer vaccines have completed the necessary vaccine safety training and diligently follow the appropriate clinical protocols.
- What if my 11-year-old is turning 12 soon? Should I wait to get him/her vaccinated since the vaccine dosage will change?
Per guidance from the CDC, pediatricians will allow for a 4-day grace period around birthdays to determine which dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is needed. For children who are 11 when they start the series, they should receive another 10-microgram dose after they turn 12 a few weeks later.
- Can my child receive other vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. It is safe for your child to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including the flu vaccine, at the same time.
- Are any other COVID-19 vaccines authorized for children ages 5-11 years old?
Currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine manufacturer that has received emergency use authorization for this age group.