- Children ages 5-11 are now able to get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster dose, however, some parents are feeling concerned about administering the vaccine and/or booster to their kids.
- Experts indicated that it’s better to get kids vaccinated sooner rather than later given the fact that hospitalizations are 10x higher for unvaccinated kids.
- For specific questions about COVID vaccines for your kids, it is best to discuss the decision with their pediatrician or your family's doctor.
Children ages 5-11 are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster dose. This news comes as a relief for many parents worried about the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Vaccinating your children is a tough decision. After all, the COVID-19 vaccines and booster are new to the market. It’s normal to feel concerned. But with playdates, birthday parties, after-school activities, and summer camps returning in full swing, you may be wondering if a COVID vaccine and booster dose are right for your kids.
To help you make your decisions, here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for kids aged 5-11.
What vaccines and booster are approved for kids 5-11?
On May 17, 2022, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first booster dose for children ages 5 - 11.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 -11 was authorized for emergency use on October 29, 2021, and requires two doses to be fully vaccinated.
When can children get a booster dose?
The booster dose is approved for children ages 5-11 who are already fully vaccinated. Your child is eligible for the booster dose if they received their second shot at least five months before.
Why do kids need vaccines and a booster dose if COVID effects are milder?
It is reassuring to know that COVID-19 has been less severe in children compared to adults, as reported by the CDC. During the recent wave of Omicron cases, however, unvaccinated children were hospitalized at double the rate of vaccinated, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The CDC also reported that over the last year, COVID-19 became the eighth leading cause of death for children in the 5-11 age group.
While kids may be less affected, they can transmit the virus to older generations and people who are vulnerable to infection. It’s important to remember that we do not fully know the long-term effects of COVID-19 in adults and children.
In a statement, the FDA Commissioner, Robert M. Califf, MD stated, “ Vaccination continues to be the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 and its severe consequences, and it is safe. If your child is eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and has not yet received their primary series, getting them vaccinated can help protect them from the potentially severe consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death.” You may use Solv to find vaccines and booster shots near you.
When is the best time to get my child’s booster? Should I try to time the booster for the Fall school year?
According to Dr. Rob Rohatsch MD, “Your child should get the booster when they are eligible. It is not a good idea to try to predict COVID surges and therefore time your child’s booster dose for a certain time of year. If your child is eligible for the booster this summer, it is best to get it then.”
What’s the difference between vaccines for kids vs. adults?
According to the FDA, the kids’ vaccine is a lower dose (10 micrograms) than what people 12 and older receive (30 micrograms). Children receive a two-dose primary series, administered 3 weeks apart with a smaller needle than the adult version of the vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 also has a different FDA-approved buffer than the vaccine used for older children and adults. This buffer helps keep the vaccine stable in refrigerated temperatures, longer.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines and booster safe for children?
Regarding the vaccine, the FDA states:
“The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children aged 5 through 11 who received the vaccine and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study.”
Says Dr. Rob Rohatsch MD, “Early results from the CDC show that the vaccine is safe with rare serious side effects for children aged 5 to 11. We can also look at the safety results of the COVID vaccine for 12 to 17-year-olds that was released earlier for additional information. What’s worrying is that CDC data shows that less than one-third of children ages 5 - 11 are fully vaccinated. As cases continue to rise, parents may want to consider getting their children vaccinated. One thing we know by now is that vaccines help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID.”
It is important for parents to continue to stay informed about the vaccine and booster shot. You may use Solv to help you talk to a provider about your child’s unique health history before making your decision.
What data did the FDA review before approving the Pfizer vaccine and booster dose for children?
Data reviewed for the vaccine:
The FDA is using effectiveness data from an ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial that has enrolled approximately 4,700 children 5 through 11 years of age in the United States, Finland, Poland, and Spain.
In a second clinical trial, the FDA is also analyzing cases of COVID-19 taking place among children within seven days of receiving a second vaccine dose. So far, the vaccine has been 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19.
In a third clinical trial, 1,444 vaccine recipients ages 5-11 were followed for safety for at least two months after the second dose.
Data reviewed for the booster shot:
The FDA analyzed the immune response in a subset of children who are a part of the ongoing placebo-controlled clinical trial for ages 5 - 11 (the study used to approve the first two shots of the vaccine for this age group).
Pfizer’s clinical trial results were reported in April 2022. The study found that a single booster dose in children aged 5-11 raised antibodies against the original coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the Omicron variant. In the trial, 140 children 5-11 years of age received a booster approximately six months after their second vaccine.
When 30 of these samples were studied, researchers found that the children who received the booster had an immune response 36 times higher than those who had two doses of the vaccine.
What are the side effects of the vaccines and the booster dose in children 5 - 11?
Commonly reported side effects in the clinical trial, according to the FDA, 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.
The FDA noted that reported side effects of the single booster dose include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, as well as fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain and chills, and fever.
When in doubt, remember that you are entitled to medical advice from your physician and care team. Reach out and discuss your child’s history with a medical professional before making a decision.
Additionally, a Solv Plus membership gets you seen in 15 minutes or less for urgent needs or everyday care, including COVID-19-related concerns.
My child is scared to get the vaccine. How can I prepare my young child for the vaccine?
Solv spoke with Dr. Anastasia Gentles, M.D., specialty medical officer and pediatrician at NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care, part of the Pediatrix® Medical Group family of practices, to get tips on making your kids’ vaccine appointment smooth and stress-free. Read more here.
What if I have more questions?
Your child’s health is extremely important. So, make sure you ask your family doctor or care provider any questions that come up.
The best way to learn more about the vaccines and booster dose is to speak to your family doctor’s office. You can also schedule a video visit online via Solv. Be sure to speak up about your concerns, so your care team can help.
Solv's COVID-19 vaccine directory can help you find a provider nearby.
The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Solv Health and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Solv Health only to confirm educational value and reader interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with your healthcare provider.
Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Expands Eligibility for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Dose to Children 5 through 11 Years (May 17, 2022)
- FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Children 5 through 11 Years of Age (October 29, 2021) https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-authorizes-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-emergency-use-children-5-through-11-years-age
- COVID-19 Resource Center (April 23, 2022)
- Hospitalizations of Children Aged 5–11 Years with Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 2020–February 2022 (April 22, 2022)
- Epidemiology of COVID-19 in Children Aged 5 – 11 years, ACIP Meeting (November 2, 2021)
- Feel better faster, from the clinic or your couch. Book same-day appointments for you and your kids (May 19, 2022) https://www.solvhealth.com/
- COVID Vaccine & Booster Shots Near Me (November 5, 2021) https://www.solvhealth.com/covid-vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccines for kids: What you need to know (November 10, 2021) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/covid-19-vaccines-for-kids/art-20513332
- CDC COVID Data Tracker (May 12, 2022) https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home