What vaccine has been approved for pediatric patients?
The m-RNA Pfizer Biontech COVID vaccine has been approved for children ages 5-11 years old. Your child must be 5 years old on the day of the first vaccine dose.
How is this vaccine different?
The pediatric vaccine is given in two 10-microgram doses administered at least 21 days apart but not longer than 42 days apart. The dosage is one-third of the adolescent and adult dose for age 12 years and older.
What if my child turns 12 between dose 1 and dose 2?
Dosing is based on age at the time of receipt so the appropriate dose for your child’s age will be administered based on the EUA approval guidelines.
Will a lower strength vaccine still protect my child?
Yes. Trial data demonstrates a 91% vaccine efficacy at preventing disease, and this was collected at a time when the majority of COVID cases were caused by the delta variant.
What side effects can I expect?
The pediatric dose demonstrated lower rates of fever and systemic symptoms (approximately 6% compared to 20%) in younger children. The most common complaints were pain at the injection site (74%), fatigue (34%), and headache (25%). Reactions were mostly mild or moderate. There were no serious adverse events related to the vaccine, including myocarditis or anaphylaxis.
My child has already had COVID. Should (s)he still get vaccinated?
Yes! Emerging research shows unvaccinated individuals who developed COVID are almost twice as likely to become infected again vs their immunized counterparts. Research also indicates vaccination produces high and longer lasting antibody levels compared to natural COVID. If your child was diagnosed with MIS-C after COVID infection, they should wait 90 days after infection before receiving the vaccine.
Can my child receive the COVID vaccine at the same time as other routine childhood immunizations?
Yes! There is no need to separate or delay receiving the COVID vaccine or any of the other approved childhood immunizations, including the flu vaccine. We will however honor parents’ wishes to give the COVID vaccine separately.
What if I think my child is experiencing a non life-threatening side effect from his/her COVID vaccine?
We encourage all families to register their children for the CDC’s V-Safe After Vaccine Health Checker, a simple text messaging reporting system. For information and to sign up, visit:
How long will my child be protected?
Vaccine efficacy is approximately 70% at 2 weeks after the first dose, and rises to 91% at 2 weeks after the second dose. Neutralizing antibody levels remain high for approximately 4 months after the second vaccine dose then gradually fall to approximately 20% by 6 months after the second dose.
Does this mean my child doesn’t need to wear a mask anymore?
There are currently no plans to change public health recommendations urging universal masking for all school aged children, so we encourage parents to continue to support their child in wearing a mask to help protect themselves and others. Mask wearing can also minimize the exposure to other infectious viruses that surge this time of year, including RSV and influenza.
What can I expect if my child tests positive for COVID-19 after receiving their vaccine?
Of trial participants who later tested COVID positive via PCR swab, only 35% actually displayed symptoms. The majority of vaccinated children remained symptom free (with lower viral load and risk of spreading) even if they did eventually become infected with COVID.
Do you feel this vaccine is safe?
No vaccine is completely without risk. While we cannot know every side effect a vaccine may produce, trial data demonstrates a significantly better safety profile than natural COVID infection. For example, the incidence of myocarditis from natural COVID is approximately 1:50,000 while the incidence of myocarditis from vaccination with the adult/adolescent dose is 1:200,000. There were no cases of myocarditis in the 5-11 dose trials. Unfortunately, COVID is not going away. Individuals will ultimately be faced with the choice between vaccination or infection. For us, as pediatricians and mothers, vaccination is the right choice for ourselves and our children.
For more information, please visit:
The American Academy of Pediatrics: AAP News
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Colorado Department of Public Health and Safety