As far as COVID-19 is concerned, November marks a pivotal month. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.
COVID-19 vaccinations are available to children over the age of five. The COVID-19 vaccine is the only one approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in adults 16 years and older.
Parents eagerly anticipated the news, especially since many children returned to in-person learning this fall. In parallel, this summer and fall, the United States had the highest number of cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 among children-more than at any other time during the pandemic.
According to Russell Horton, DO, a pediatrician at Banner Health Center in Queen Creek, Arizona, “the EPRA for the Pfizer vaccine fills a significant gap in our ability to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. Children have largely ignored COVID-19. On the other hand, recent variants have been affecting children more and placing them at a higher risk of hospitalization and serious harm. Like all childhood vaccines, this vaccine reduces the very real risk to children and prevents further spread to people of all ages.”
If you have a child between the ages of 5 and 11, here is some information about COVID-19 vaccinations.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe to give to children?
In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine has proven safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 in children aged 5 to 11.
COVID-19 clinical trials rushed?
Vaccines that the FDA approves have been subjected to the same rigorous clinical trials as those for other approved vaccines. Since the pandemic was an emergency, the review process was more efficient. This is not to suggest that shortcuts were taken or that the safety monitoring or data gathering process was rushed. Children aged 5 to 11 years old participated in the trials, which resulted in high-quality data.
The vaccine has been administered in 184 countries across more than 6.55 billion doses, and most importantly, it has been proven time and time again to be safe and effective for people aged 18 and older.
Parental reassurance is also provided by VAERS, the United States’ robust system for reporting vaccine safety concerns and side effects.
Dr. Horton said the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) provides extra protection and monitoring for vaccine recipients. VAERS allows any adverse vaccine event to be reported and monitored. If a previously unknown side effect emerges, it will be identified and addressed as soon as possible.” Anyone can submit a report to VAERS, and healthcare providers must do so if a vaccine adverse event occurs.
Do children aged 5 to 11 receive a different dose of vaccine than adults aged 12 and older?
Each dose of the Pfizer vaccine consists of 10 micrograms, administered two times 21 days apart. This is a lower dose than the 30 micrograms used for those over 12 years old. In the clinical trial, antibodies levels in children were comparable to those seen in previous trials for those between 16 and 25.
Do children and adults experience different side effects?
The side effects experienced by children aged 5 to 11 who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were similar to those experienced by those 12 and older. Some of the side effects include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and fever. In patients aged 5 to 11 years old, local and systemic reactions were less severe than in those aged 16 to 25. There are typically mild side effects that last between one and two days.
What are the risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccine for my child’s heart?
There has been a small report of mild cases of myocarditis among male adolescents and young adults aged 16 or older who received the COVID-19 vaccine. In the meantime, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that myocarditis after vaccination is still extremely rare, with between one and five cases per 100,000 people vaccinated. Myocarditis is more likely to occur following COVID-19 infection than the following vaccination. Due to COVID-19 infection, the risk of myocarditis is greatly reduced with this vaccine.
After the second dose of the vaccination, the problem occurred more frequently and usually within a few days after the vaccination. Most people who received treatment felt better after taking medicine and resting.
My child’s future fertility may be affected by the COVID-19 vaccine?
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “unfounded claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility have been disproved scientifically.” The vaccine is not associated with infertility. Although the vaccine’s clinical trials did not specifically test fertility, no loss of fertility has been documented among trial participants or among the millions of people who have received the vaccines since they were approved. In animal studies, no signs of infertility have been observed. COVID-19 is not known to affect puberty.”
Can my child take Tylenol or Advil before their vaccination to prevent side effects?
Pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are not recommended before the vaccine because they may reduce the immune response to the vaccine. It is okay to give your child pain relievers if they develop a fever or pain afterward unless their doctor prescribes otherwise.
Allergies affect my child. Is it possible to immunize them against COVID-19?
Following the CDC, a vaccine shouldn’t be given to a child with severe allergies. Adults are no different. The FDA fact sheet provides the ingredients for the Pfizer vaccine.
Observe your child for 30 minutes after an infection if your child has a history of severe allergies or anaphylaxis. If your child has been prescribed an EpiPen, please bring it to their appointment.
What other vaccinations can my child receive alongside the COVID-19 vaccine?
If your child comes in for the COVID-19 shot, they may also receive additional vaccinations, including a flu shot and the COVID-19 shot. Sticking to the recommended schedule is especially important for children and adolescents due to receiving other childhood vaccines or falling behind. Additionally, Medriva offers low dead volume syringes for their vaccination program and has partnered with more than 100 countries. Both UNICEF and PAHO use MEDRIVA’s auto-disposable syringes to administer COVAX vaccinations.
In the early days of vaccine distribution, the CDC advised people to wait two weeks before or after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting multiple vaccinations at the same time is not dangerous.
Throughout the day, our immune system is exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of different substances, according to Dr. Horton. “Our immune system creates appropriate responses and defenses to everything we touch, breathe, or eat. Adding a few antigens into our bodies in the form of vaccines will not overwhelm these defenses.”
If my child already has COVID-19, is the vaccination really necessary?
Everyone, regardless of age, should get the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they have had COVID-19. Due to the vaccine’s ability to reduce COVID-19 re-infection risks, it provides additional protection.
When it comes to giving a child the first dose, the CDC recommends waiting until they have recovered from acute illness and that isolation has ended. The body can thus produce natural antibodies against the virus while also taking advantage of the extra protection that the vaccine provides.
Children of all ages spread COVID-19, and immunization reduces the virus spread among families, schools, and communities.
Vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 will be available at dentists’ offices, pediatricians’ offices, rural clinics, pharmacies, schools, and other community locations.
Concerns or questions about the vaccine should be directed to your child’s health care provider or the CDC website. More information about COVID-19 vaccines, prevention, and treatment can be found in these articles.
The month of November marks a watershed moment in the fight against COVID-19. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s emergency use authorization (EUA) to children aged 5 to 11.
This means that any child over the age of five is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. Pfizer is the sole manufacturer of the COVID-19 vaccine with full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for people aged 16 and up.
Parents have been waiting for this news with bated breath, especially since many children returned to in-person learning this fall. Coincidentally, the United States experienced the highest increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among children this summer and fall—more than at any other time during the pandemic.
“The EUA for the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 fills a significant gap in our ability as health care providers to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Russell Horton, DO, a pediatrician at Banner Health Center in Queen Creek, Arizona. “By and large, children have not been the most severely affected by COVID-19.” Recent variants, on the other hand, have been affecting children more and putting them at a higher risk of hospitalization and serious harm. This vaccine, like all childhood vaccines, will reduce the very real risk to children while also preventing further spread to people of all ages.”
If you have a child aged 5 to 11, here is a guide to what we know about COVID-19 vaccines for this age group.
Is it safe for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
When used to prevent COVID-19 in children aged 5 to 11, clinical trials have shown that the Pfizer vaccine is both safe and effective.
Were clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine rushed?
The clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines were conducted with the same care and requirements as any other FDA-approved vaccine. The review processes were made more efficient due to the pandemic’s emergency circumstances. This is not to say that any shortcuts were taken, or that any data collection or safety monitoring was rushed. The trials for children aged 5 to 11 years old included a large number of patients from a variety of backgrounds, resulting in high-quality data.
More than 6.55 billion doses had been administered across 184 countries as of October 2021, but most importantly, the vaccines have been shown time and again to be safe and effective in people aged 18 and up.
Another reassuring factor for parents is the robust reporting system, VAERS, that the United States has put in place to detect vaccine safety issues and side effects.
“The VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) has long been an extra layer of protection and monitoring that should provide reassurance to all patients receiving any vaccine,” Dr. Horton said. “Any vaccine adverse event can be reported and monitored through VAERS.” This means that if a concerning previously unknown side effect begins to emerge, it will be quickly identified and addressed.” Anyone can submit a report to VAERS, and all health care providers are required to do so if an event occurs.
Is the vaccine dose for children aged 5 to 11 different from the dose for adults aged 12 and up?
The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses of 10 micrograms each, 21 days apart. This is a lower dose than the 30 micrograms used for those aged 12 and up. Children in the clinical trial demonstrated an effective immune response comparable to antibody levels seen in previous trials for those aged 16 to 25.
Are there any differences in the side effects between children and adults?
Children aged 5 to 11 who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine experienced side effects similar to those seen in people aged 12 and older. Pain where the shot was given, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and fever are some of the side effects. Local and systemic reactions were less severe in patients aged 5 to 11 years old who received the 10-microgram dose compared to patients aged 16 to 25 years old who received the 30-microgram dose. Side effects are typically mild and should last no more than 1 to 2 days.
Can my child’s heart be harmed by the COVID-19 vaccine?
You may have heard that a small number of male adolescents and young adults aged 16 and older who received the COVID-19 vaccine experienced mild cases of heart inflammation, known as myocarditis. However, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, myocarditis after vaccination is still extremely rare, with one to five cases per 100,000 people vaccinated. In fact, infection with COVID-19 is far more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine. This vaccine greatly reduces the risk of developing myocarditis as a result of COVID-19 infection.
The problem occurred more frequently after the second dose of the vaccine, and usually within a few days of the vaccination. After receiving medicine and resting, the majority of those who received care felt much better.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine affect my child’s fertility in the future?
“Unfounded claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility have been scientifically disproven,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. There is no evidence that the vaccine causes infertility. While fertility was not specifically studied in the vaccine’s clinical trials, no loss of fertility has been reported among trial participants or among the millions who have received the vaccines since their approval, and no signs of infertility have been seen in animal studies. There is also no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects puberty.”
Can I give Tylenol or Advil to my child before their vaccination to prevent side effects?
The CDC advises against giving your child pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen prior to receiving the vaccine because it may reduce the immune response to the vaccine. However, if your child develops a fever or experiences pain afterward, it is acceptable to give them pain relievers at the appropriate dose, unless otherwise directed by their doctor.
My child suffers from allergies. Can they still be immunized against COVID-19?
According to the CDC, if your child has had a severe allergic reaction to any of the vaccine’s ingredients, they should not receive it. This also applies to adults. The ingredients for the Pfizer vaccine can be found on the FDA fact sheet.
If your child has a history of anaphylaxis or other severe allergies, experts recommend waiting 30 minutes after the infection to be observed. Furthermore, children who have been prescribed an EpiPen for any reason should bring it to their appointment.
Can my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine alongside other vaccinations?
Yes, your child may receive additional vaccines in addition to the COVID-19 shot when they come in for their COVID-19 shot, including the flu shot. It’s critical for children and adolescents to stick to the recommended schedule, especially if they’re due for other childhood vaccinations or have fallen behind. Medriva also has partnered with over 100+ countries and offers it low dead volume syringes for their vaccination program. UNICEF and PAHO both utilize MEDRIVA’s auto-disable syringes to carry out their vaccination programs with COVAX.
Previously, the CDC advised recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine to wait two weeks before or after the shot, but this was a precautionary measure in the early days of vaccine distribution. There is no danger in receiving multiple vaccinations at the same time.
“Our immune system is an incredible and complex system designed to deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of different substances throughout the day,” Dr. Horton explained. “Our immune system processes everything we touch, breathe, or eat, and creates appropriate responses and defenses.” Adding these few antigens in the form of vaccines will not overwhelm our bodies.”
Is it really necessary to get the vaccination if my child already has COVID-19?
Regardless of whether your child has had COVID-19, everyone, regardless of age, should get the COVID-19 vaccination. This is because the vaccine provides additional protection by lowering the risk of re-infection with COVID-19.
The CDC recommends that you wait until your child has recovered from acute illness and that isolation has been lifted before administering the first dose. This allows their bodies to produce natural antibodies against the virus while also benefiting from the added protection of the vaccine when it is administered.
Because severe illness in children is uncommon, why not simply wait for my child’s vaccination?
Recent outbreaks have resulted in an increase in the number of children contracting COVID-19 as well as an increase in the number of children being hospitalized. While your child is less likely to develop a severe illness as a result of COVID-19 infection, they are still at risk. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome is a serious COVID-19 complication to watch out for in children (MIS-C).
“MIS-C, myocarditis, respiratory distress, and long COVID-19 symptoms are all real possibilities for children,” Dr. Horton said. “We have a very low risk way to avoid this fate with this vaccine.”
Unvaccinated children can also endanger others. Even if they do not become ill, your child can spread the virus to family members, teachers, and others who are at a higher risk of serious illness or death.
Vaccines are widely regarded as the most significant advancement in health-care technology in history. They are a modern-day scientific miracle that has saved countless lives. “The benefit of immunizations is that they protect us from some of the most serious infections while also erecting a protective shield around the communities in which we live,” Dr. Horton explained. “We all face the tiny sting of the needle together, but we live in a society that does not know the daily heartache of previous generations.” We immunize our children so that they will be able to protect others.”
“If we don’t keep up this effort, the shield will crack and we’ll be back in a much darker time,” Dr. Horton warned. “As a pediatrician, I see the COVID-19 vaccine, which includes the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, as another in a long line of gifts that we should not take for granted.”
All age groups contribute to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and immunization of children helps to reduce disease spread across families, schools, and communities.
Vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 years will be available at many pediatricians’ offices, as well as children’s hospitals, rural health clinics, pharmacies, some school-based clinics, and other community locations.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact your child’s health care provider or visit the CDC website for more information on the vaccine. Check out these related articles for more information on COVID-19 vaccines, treatment, and prevention.