- Children ages 5-11 are now able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, however, some parents are feeling concerned about administering the vaccine to their kids
- Experts indicated that it’s better to get kids vaccinated do 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.
By now, you’ve probably heard that children ages 5-11 are now able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For many worried and anxious parents who have been navigating tough decisions over the past 20 months, this news is extremely relieving. The thought of being able to return to indoor playdates, larger birthday parties, and after school programs is an important source of hope — that better days will return.
But vaccinating your kids is an understandably tough decision. After all, the COVID-19 vaccines are new to the market. It’s normal to feel concerned about administering the vaccine to your children. Research has shown that a lot of parents are feeling this way.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that the long-term effects of COVID-19 are not yet fully known. Another concern is that kids have the potential to transmit the virus to older generations and vulnerable groups. The FDA has also released data that over the last year, COVID-19 has become the 8th leading cause of death for children in the 5-11 age group.
The team at Solv created this resource to help you make the best decision for the health and wellbeing of your family.
Waiting vs. Not Waiting
A lot of parents are considering waiting to vaccinate their children. But the experts say that it’s better to do it sooner rather than later. Even though the COVID-19 vaccine is new for children ages 5-11, there is already existing data for 12 to 17 year olds. For instance, it’s known that hospitalization rates are about 10 times higher for unvaccinated teens than vaccinated ones.
“We are still learning about the COVID-19 disease, and we don’t know its long-term effects,” said Anastasia Gentles, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care. “Anytime you contract an illness that may cause long-term damage and you get it as a child, it has the potential to be even more impactful because you have those effects over a longer period. That’s why the latest FDA approval for children ages 5 through 11 is critical. It can save younger children from long-term health effects we may not even know exist.”
The Delta variant, especially, is highly transmissible and infectious. It’s impossible to predict who is going to get sick and who isn’t. It’s known that vaccines offer protections from serious illness and death — especially for elderly people and other vulnerable populations in your household, according to the CDC.
This COVID vaccine finder from Solv can help you find providers in your area.
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Kids Ages 5-11
It’s understandable to have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for children. Here are a few insights to help you find the direction that you need. Be sure to ask your doctor questions, too.
Which vaccines were approved for kids ages 5-11?
As of October 29, 2021, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for kids ages 5-11. The Moderna vaccine is still under review.
What’s the difference between the vaccines for adults and kids?
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.
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 keeps the vaccine stable in refrigerated temperatures, longer.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
In short, yes. The public health and medical research communities are giving their full attention to this topic. According to the FDA:
“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.”
“The FDA doesn’t take these rulings lightly,” said Anastasia Gentles, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care. “Its purpose is to keep American residents safe. Therefore, like every approved vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine has undergone the laborious, scientific-based analysis consistently imposed by the FDA.”
It is important for parents to keep up to date with this research. Be sure to also ask your doctor about your child’s unique health history and circumstances.
What results did the Pfizer clinical trial data show?
The FDA is using effectiveness data based on an ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled study 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. The vaccine is 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.
You can learn more about the clinical trial data directly from the FDA.
What are some of the safety concerns and side effects of the vaccine?
The public health community is paying close attention to this topic.
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.
Business Insider published a helpful chart based on FDA data to help parents and kids keep track of vaccine side effects. When in doubt, remember that you are entitled to medical advice from your physician and care team. Be sure to ask about any phone numbers or contact information for on-call support when you take your child to get vaccinated.
What if I have more questions?
Your child’s health is important, and you should feel free to ask any questions that come up. Remember that your care team is there to help you.
The best way to learn more about the vaccine is to speak to your family doctor’s office. You can also schedule a telemedicine consultation online via Solv. Be sure to speak up about your concerns, so your care team can help.
Solv’s COVID-19 vaccine finder 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.
- COVID Vaccine & Booster Shots Near Me (November 5, 2021)
- KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: October 2021 (October 28, 2021)
- COVID-19 Resource Center (November 5, 2021)
- Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting (October 26, 2021)
- Some parents want to wait to vaccinate their kids. Here's why doctors say do it now (November 3, 2021)
- Hospitalizations Associated with COVID-19 Among Children and Adolescents — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1, 2020–August 14, 2021 (September 9, 2021) https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7036e2.htm
- FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Children 5 through 11 Years of Age (October 29, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccines for kids: What you need to know (November 10, 2021)
- One chart shows the most common side effects for kids after each dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine (November 8, 2021)