COVID vaccines for children under 5: what every parent needs to know

For the latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit WHO and CDC websites.

What is happening

A CDC panel has unanimously endorsed FDA recommendations that COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna should be given to children as young as 6 months old.

why is it important

To date, young children have not been able to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

And after

Infants, toddlers and preschoolers could receive their first dose as early as the week of June 20.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Food and Drug Administration have authorized COVID vaccines for children from the age of 6 months.

Agencies approved emergency use authorization for Moderna’s two-part vaccine for children aged 6 months to 5 years and Pfizer-BioNTech’s three-dose vaccine for children aged 6 months to 4 years .

The CDC encourages parents to vaccinate all eligible children, including those who have already had COVID-19.

“Together, with science in the lead, we have taken another important step in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. said in a June 18 statement. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can.”

Here’s what to know about COVID-19 vaccines for children, including the ages they’re approved for, possible side effects, and the differences between the two approved vaccines.

How old do children have to be to get a COVID vaccine?

With CDC supporting FDA recommendations, two COVID vaccines are now approved in the United States for children under 5: Moderna’s is for children 6 months to 5 years old, while Pfizer’s vaccine is for for children from 6 months to 4 years old.

How many vaccines do children receive?

Moderna’s vaccine is one dose in two injections. Each dose is 25 micrograms, which is a quarter of the adult dose, with the second injection given four weeks after the first.

Pfizer’s vaccine is a three-shot process: each dose is just 3 micrograms, or a tenth of the adult version. The first two injections are given three weeks apart and the third is given at least two months after the second.

Is the COVID vaccine safe for children?

Results submitted to the FDA and CDC are still preliminary, with both agencies saying they are safe and effective.

“There are many processes in place to ensure safety, including oversight from vaccine advisory groups, the FDA, and vaccine manufacturers,” said Dr. Leslie Sude, a pediatrician at Yale School of Medicine. said in a press release. “We are fortunate to live in a country that has these oversights in place.”

Sude added that children receive lower doses of vaccines than adults but “mount robust antibody responses without any safety concerns.”

What are the side effects?


Reported side effects in young children receiving a COVID-19 vaccine include fever, fatigue and pain at the injection site.

Freemixer/Getty Images

Both vaccines for young children produced common and mild side effects, including irritability, drowsiness, fever, fatigue, and pain at the injection site, similar to effects reported in a December 2021 CDC report over 8 million doses of Pfizer vaccine given to children ages 5-11.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a June 17 statement that parents of younger children “can be confident in the safety and effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines and be assured that the agency has been thorough in its assessment of the data.”

Inflammation of the heart muscle, known as myocarditis, is a rare and usually mild side effect linked to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, mainly in adolescents and young men aged 12 to 29 years. (Myocarditis can also occur after infection with COVID-19.)

In one study, the CDC said that only 54 out of 1 million male recipients aged 12 to 17 suffered from myocarditis after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

No trials with younger children reported cases of myocarditis, but the FDA said there was insufficient data to properly determine the risk.

What is the difference between Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?

Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech logos

Although both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been approved for children, there are differences between the two.


There are several key differences between the two vaccines, including potential side effects and proven effectiveness.

Side effects
Between 21% and 26% of children aged 6 months to 5 years developed a fever after each dose of the Moderna vaccine, more than in adolescents and adults. Fever was less common in the Pfizer trial, reported in only 7% of children aged 6 to 23 months after each injection.

In the Moderna trial, 62% of 3- to 5-year-olds experienced fatigue, compared to just under 45% of 2- to 4-year-olds in the Pfizer trial.

Two doses of the Moderna vaccine are 51% effective in preventing infection in children 6 months to 2 years old, the company reported, and 37% effective in children 2 to 5 years old. The ability of the vaccine to prevent serious illness or hospitalization should be higher.

Pfizer reported that its three-dose vaccine prevented 80% of infection, but its research was based on a very small group of subjects. More data will become available as its vaccine is widely rolled out.

Do children even need to be vaccinated against COVID?

Children are less likely to be seriously ill than adults, but some have become extremely ill. The omicron wave was particularly hard on children, leading to an increase in juvenile hospitalizations. Between December 2021 and February 2022, almost 90% of children aged 5 to 11 who were hospitalized were not vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Of these children, 30% had no underlying medical conditions that would have made them more vulnerable to more serious complications.

A April 2022 CDC report found that 75% of children aged 11 and under showed signs of previous coronavirus infection, of which about a third became newly HIV-positive since December 2021. But having antibodies against the virus “should not be interpreted as protection against future infection,” the agency said. in a report.

“Vaccination remains the safest strategy to prevent complications from SARS-CoV-2 infection, including hospitalization in children and adults.”

Children aged 5 to 11 who have COVID-19 also have a higher risk of multisystem inflammatory syndromeor MIS-C, a rare but potentially serious complication that can involve inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and other organs.

More than 2 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in children 4 years of age or younger in the United States, According to the CDCcausing 442 deaths.

And even a mild case of COVID-19 can disrupt a child’s ability to socialize or attend school, and children can spread the infection to more vulnerable family or community members. In February 2022, approximately 75% of children and adolescents had had COVID-19, according to at CDC.

When can my child receive a reminder?

Most children aged 5 and over are currently eligible for a single booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least five months after their second primary dose. Immunocompromised children are eligible for their first booster at least three months after their last vaccine.

In March, the FDA authorized a second recall for children 12 years and older with weakened immune systems.

Booster shots for children are only available where the Pfizer low-dose vaccine for children is in stock. Call your pediatrician or local health clinic for a referral. You can text your postal code to 438829 Where use this vaccine search link to find a location near you.

“Vaccination with a primary series in this age group has lagged behind other age groups, making them vulnerable to severe disease,” Walensky said in a statement in May. “We must continue to increase the number of children who are protected.”

No decision has yet been made regarding recalls for children under 5 years of age.

Do I have to give my consent for my child to be vaccinated?

Parents generally must consent to children receiving medical care, including Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. This is especially true for young children.

However, depending on the state you live inthere may be legal precedent for adolescents and other children requesting the vaccine without parental permission.

Tennessee Director of Vaccines Michelle Fiscus was fired in August, allegedly in part for sending a note detailing the condition”mature minor doctrine“, which explains how minors can seek medical care without parental consent.

My child has allergies. Can they get vaccinated?

Yes, although you may be asked to stay in the waiting room so health care providers can monitor them (extremely rare) allergic reactions which may occur after any vaccination.

“If the child has a history of anaphylaxis or other severe allergies, the observation time after the injection may be 30 minutes instead of 15,” said Dr. Anne Liu, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford Hospital and Clinics and the Lucile Packard Children’s. Hospital.

Children who have been prescribed an EpiPen for any reason should bring it to their vaccination appointment, Liu added.

As with adults, children allergic to any ingredient in Pfizer’s COVID-19 should not take it. You can find a list of ingredients for Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5-11 on the FDA Fact Sheet.

Can my child be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the same time as other vaccines?

According to the CDCyour child can receive other vaccines when they come in for their COVID vaccine without waiting 14 days between appointments. Vaccine against influenza can be given to children 6 months and over.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

#COVID #vaccines #children #parent

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *