Children ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you’re a parent or guardian of a child in this age range, you may have questions and concerns about getting your child vaccinated. Here are answers to the most common questions and concerns that parents may have, along with information on where to get your child vaccinated and where to find more information.
Which COVID-19 vaccine can children get, and is it safe for them?
Currently, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for children ages 5 to 11. About 3,000 children ages 5 to 11 have participated in clinical trials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Based on the results of those trials, the FDA has determined that the Pfizer COVID-19 has met the required standards for both safety and effectiveness to be authorized for children in this age group. All COVID-19 vaccines also continue to be monitored for safety with the most comprehensive monitoring program in U.S. history.
Will children 5 to 11 receive the same vaccine as older children and adults?
The vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 contains the same active ingredients as the vaccine for adults, but the dose is smaller – about one-third as much as the dose is given to older children and adults. The vaccine will also be given using a smaller needle.
What are the side effects? Are they worse for young children?
The possible side effects that younger children may experience after receiving the vaccine are the same as those experienced by adults. Some children won’t have any side effects. But if they do they may include:
These side effects are normal and are actually a sign that the vaccine is working and your child’s body is building immunity to the virus. These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities for a short while, but they should go away in one to three days. In the meantime, you can help to relieve these symptoms with a non-aspirin pain reliever.
As with other vaccines, there is a small chance of allergic reaction, but this is very rare. Your child will be monitored for a short time after receiving the vaccine so that if a severe allergic reaction does occur, he or she can be provided with care.
Will my child need to get a second dose of the vaccine?
Yes. At this time, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children ages 5 to 11, and that vaccine does require a second follow-up dose three weeks after the first one. You will be given an appointment for the follow-up shot when your child receives the first shot.
I heard that children are less likely to get seriously ill if they get the COVID-19 virus. If that’s true, is it really necessary for them to get the vaccine?
It’s true that children have much less chance of becoming seriously ill if they are infected with COVID-19. But there are still many reasons why it’s very important for them to receive the vaccine.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of November 4th3 million U.S. children had tested positive since the start of the pandemic. But one-third of those were infected in the past two months, as the highly contagious Delta variant has spread.1
Where can I get my child vaccinated for COVID-19?
UMass Memorial Health – Harrington offers first-time COVID-19 vaccinations for ages 5 and up, as well as booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for eligible individuals, by appointment only. Patients should call their Primary Care Physician or child’s Pediatric physician to schedule an appointment.
You can also search for COVID-19 vaccine providers at vaccines.gov/search.
Where can I learn more and see the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccinations for children?
You can find more information and the latest news about the COVID-19 vaccine for children at the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens page.
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