COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids Ages 5 to 11

Bayo Curry-Winchell MD, MS
November 17, 2021

As of November 4, 2021, the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is recommending that everyone ages five and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. At this time, the vaccine from Pfizer is recommended for children and teenagers ages five to 17; people older than that are encouraged to get any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 greatly reduces your and your child’s risk of catching COVID-19, and greatly reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death if you do catch it. 

According to the CDC, “widespread vaccination for COVID-19 is a critical tool to best protect everyone, especially those at highest risk.... People who are fully vaccinated can safely resume many activities that they did prior to the pandemic. Children ages five years and older are able to get an age-appropriate dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.” 

Learn more about what you and your child or teen can do when fully vaccinated.

While this is bound to be a major relief for many worried parents, some may be wondering, “Why now? And why the delay?”

Groundbreaking Research

The delay in producing a vaccine for children was a matter of practicality, not because children did not need vaccination. Early in the pandemic, scientists from the WHO (World Health Organization) noted that children both transmitted and caught COVID-19 at lower rates than adults, and their infections were frequently (but not always) less severe. Producing a vaccine that was effective for adults was a priority at the beginning of the pandemic.

A one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work for vaccines. Because a child’s immune system is different from an adult’s, the vaccines developed for adults needed to be tested for safety before they could be distributed to kids. 

This vaccine has gone through rigorous and intensive peer-reviewed trials to ensure that it’s safe and effective and that the dose is correct for the children who will be receiving it. 

Children May Be at Higher Risk from COVID-19 than Previously Thought

Getting your child vaccinated is now important as new research warns that children younger than 12 may be more susceptible to infection by new strains of COVID-19, and may be at major risk of lifelong complications. It’s best to play it safe and get your children vaccinated, as scientists have conclusively determined that Pfizer’s vaccine for children is safe.

COVID-19 can be a dangerous disease. Keeping your children safe from infection will be of paramount importance as colder weather and the holiday season lead to more people congregating indoors, where COVID-19 is more easily spread. 

Answering Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids

+ What is the current age authorized for vaccination?

At this time, all people who are five years old and older have been authorized to receive the Pfizer vaccine (specific formula dependent on age). Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain only for people over the age of 18. 

+ Is there a difference between the pediatric dose and dose for people ages 12 and over of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, there is a new dosing amount for pediatric patients who are 11 years old or younger. Children should receive the age-appropriate vaccine dose regardless of their size or weight. 

+ Can children ages 5 to 11 receive different vaccines on the same day? For example, can they get a flu shot right after getting the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about multiple vaccines.

+ What if my child currently has COVID-19?

If your child is currently experiencing COVID-19, wait to get the vaccine until they have recovered or symptoms are no longer present and you have quarantined the recommended amount of time.  

+ What happens if a child turns 12 in between their first and second doses? 

Children should receive the vaccine dosage and formulation based on their age on the day of vaccination with each dose. If a child turns 12 between their first and second dose, they should receive the age-appropriate vaccine formulation for their second dose to complete their series.

+ Where should I take my child to get vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccine for children should be available where the vaccine for adults is administered: doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and so on. (Find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.) If your child has a history of allergies to other vaccines or antibiotics, get the vaccine at pediatrician’s office, or at a pharmacy you trust. If they have a history of allergies, it’s important to monitor them for at least 30 minutes, and you’ll want to make sure that location can appropriately respond in a timely manner if there is a reaction.

Vaccines for children are available at select Carbon Health clinics in California: Los Angeles Midtown Crossing, Echo Park Travel Clearance, Glendale, San Francisco Stonestown, San Mateo, Simi Valley, and San Leandro.

Book your appointment for your child’s first and second vaccine doses on carbonhealth.com or in our app. Simply select your preferred location and then type “COVID-19 vaccination first dose” or “COVID-19 vaccination second dose” in the search bar. Select an appointment time and book!

When you arrive at the clinic, you will be asked to fill out some forms about your child’s medical history, and clinic staff will take some vitals before administering the vaccine. On-site counseling is available for all families. Book an appointment today

+ Will my child experience side effects?

Possible side effects in children are similar to those in adults. Many children experience no side effects. Mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches are possible. Some kids have no symptoms, and others do. They are fleeting, lasting only a couple of days at most. 

I always like to tell kids that it’s like a rehearsal or practice. When you get those shots, your body is learning how to protect itself if it comes into contact with COVID-19. So the fever, chills, and body aches are “practice” while your body learns to protect itself if it is ever exposed to COVID-19.

+ When should I call my kid’s doctor about COVID-19 vaccine side effects?

Whenever you child has cold or flu-like symptoms, closely monitor them. If something doesn't look right with your child after receiving the vaccine, contact a healthcare provider. 

If it has been 24 hours and your child has a fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius) that does not respond to acetaminophen or ibuprofen, call your pediatrician or family doctor. A noticeable decrease in fluid intake should prompt a call, too.

Sometimes young children won’t eat when they’re not feeling well, but as long as they’re consuming water and peeing and pooping, things are probably OK. But if that stops, that’s another sign that you really should seek out a healthcare provider.

Above all else, trust your instincts. We know our kids best, so if you’re concerned, see a doctor. 

If you have questions about COVID-19, Carbon Health has answers. Book an appointment via carbonhealth.com or the Carbon Health app today.

Carbon Health’s medical content is reviewed and approved by healthcare professionals before it is published. But note that our knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 are developing and changing very rapidly; if you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 precautions, treatments, and vaccinations, please talk to your healthcare provider.


 

Bayo Curry-Winchell MD, MS

Bayo Curry-Winchell, MD, MS, is a board-certified practicing family physician based in Reno, NV, where she serves as Regional Clinical Director for Carbon Health and Medical Director for Saint Mary’s Medical Group. Curry-Winchell is dedicated to highlighting healthcare disparities and is a member of the Mayor’s Taskforce and Governors Medical Advisory Team on COVID-19.

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