The COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in children 5 to 11 years old, and there’s no time like the present for making sure our kids stay safe.
Below, we highlight important information that parents and caregivers need to know as vaccinations for this age group begin.
Experts are learning more and more every day that children can and do spread the virus that causes COVID-19. More than 1.9 million 5- to 11-year-olds in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the pandemic and 8,300 have been hospitalized. Although the risks to any individual child of having severe illness or complications from COVID-19 are low, with the coronavirus circulating in our communities, children are being hospitalized with infection or complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, referred to as MIS-C. Children can also die from COVID-19 at rates comparable to seasonal influenza.
Providing safe and effective vaccinations to children, especially as they have returned to school, is an important step to help protect them from getting sick from COVID-19. Children age 5 to 11 are now able to complete the 2-dose series and be fully vaccinated in time for the winter holidays, making travel and time with loved ones safer for everyone.
Getting children vaccinated for flu is another important way to keep them healthy. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu, thousands are hospitalized, and some children die. When you make an appointment for your child to get a COVID-19 vaccination, ask for a flu shot during the same visit. Getting both vaccines simultaneously is safe and effective.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine approved for 5-to-11-year-olds at this time. It is similar to but not the same as the Pfizer vaccine given to older people. The vaccine given to kids is a 2-dose regimen administered 21 days apart, just like the Pfizer vaccine for teens and adults. But the youngest group will receive a lower dose of 10 micrograms with each shot, one-third of what is used for people 12 and older. This 10-microgram dose was selected to prioritize safety, tolerability, and immune response in kids age 5 to 11.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been found to be safe and effective. They were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials involving both children and adults and were developed using science that has existed for decades. They have been administered to hundreds of millions of people around the world and have demonstrated a historic level of safety and effectiveness.
The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be 90.9% effective in preventing infection in kids age 5 to 11. The data also shows that the vaccine reduces the risk of symptomatic COVID-19 in children if they do become infected.
For the latest information on vaccines and appointment availability, please visit kp.org/covidvaccine.