COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Children Ages 5-11
Vaccinating children and young adults is key to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, and the CDC just announced its authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. This new recommendation expands protection to about 28 million additional children and is a critical step towards stopping the spread of disease.
What's different about the Pfizer 5-11 COVID-19 Vaccine
The pediatric version of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is authorized for kids ages 5-11 will be a lower dose than the amount administered to individuals 12 and up, but will still be a 2 dose shot administered 21 days apart.
Different-colored tops on vials will help providers distinguish between the two types of doses. The ages 5-11 doses are packaged in vials with orange tops and the ages 12+ vials are packaged with purple tops.
Why should I vaccinate my child?
In addition to the CDC's recommendation that everyone 12 years or older get a COVID-19 vaccine, this new authorization now makes the same recommendation for children ages 5 to 11, who are already routinely vaccinated against diseases such as chickenpox and measles. While more adults than children have been infected with COVID-19, it's still important to remember that children can:
COVID-19 cases tend to be less severe in children. However, pediatric COVID-19 cases can result in hospitalization, deaths, MIS-C (inflammatory syndromes), and long-term complications, such as "long COVID", or long-term, lingering symptoms. Pfizer says its clinical trial shows that the vaccine is 90.7% effective in preventing symptomatic disease in children ages 5-11.
Vaccinating as many people as possible, including the millions of children who live in the United States, is the best tool we have in fighting the spread of COVID-19 and stopping this pandemic.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
Any COVID-19 vaccine for children is subject to the same multi-step testing and approval process as all other COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 vaccines. These include vaccines that are routinely recommended for childhood vaccination, such as Polio, Hepatitis B, chickenpox, or measles, mumps, and rubella.
The final decision about the recommendation came from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who endorses the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' (ACIP) recommendation for pediatric vaccination in this age group. The ACIP is an independent advisory committee consisting of medical and public health experts who create recommendations for the safe use of vaccines.
What can I expect when vaccinating my child?
Like adult vaccine trials, the Pfizer vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 to 11. In clinical trials, side effects were mild and similar to those seen in adults with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm. The dose is one-third what people ages 12 and older receive, and Pfizer hopes the smaller dose will help reduce any potential side effects.
What are the benefits of vaccinating children?
In the most recent Delta wave of the COVID-19 virus, pediatric admission rates were higher than any of the pandemi's previous waves. There were 25 hospitalizations per 100,000 per year in children ages 5 to 11, and children now account for a disproportionate number of new COVID-19 cases (as of last week, a quarter of all new cases*). While the chance that a child will develop severe COVID-19 or long-term complications is low, vaccinating children is still crucial in fighting the spread of disease and preventing any severe complications in kids.
It will also help kids and young adults resume normal activities that many may have missed out on due to the pandemic, like in-person classes, sports, graduations, and many other activities. This new approval would open eligibility to about 29 million children and is an essential step towards putting the pandemic behind us.
To learn more or to schedule a COVID-19 appointment, visit our COVID-19 vaccine page.