Families are able to get an early gift this holiday season.
They can finally protect their children between the ages of 5 and 11 against COVID-19 through vaccination. The CDC recommended a version of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old and the FDA gave emergency use authorization for the Pfizer dose for this age group, about one-third the amount used in vaccines for adolescents and adults.
With the onset of cold weather in many parts of the country, kids will be indoors more where transmission is most likely. Also, the vaccine release may help families with high-risk individuals gather more safely and give them a chance to have a more ‘normal’ holiday season. This is another reason why many parents are pleased to see vaccine approval for younger children. If you are looking to have your kids fully vaccinated for the holidays, aim for November 19th for their first dose and December 10th for their second dose or sooner if vaccines are available in your area.
Read some frequently asked questions and answers from the Mayo Clinic regarding the new vaccine release below.
How did the FDA determine the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for use in kids?
For kids ages 5 through 11, the FDA reviewed a vaccine study of more than 4,600 children in this age range. Of this group, about 3,100 were given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The other children were given an inactive (placebo) shot. Children who were given the vaccine were monitored for side effects for at least 2 months after the second dose. Side effects were generally mild to moderate.
The FDA also took an early look at cases of COVID-19 that occurred one week after children were given a second dose of the vaccine. None of the children in this analysis had been previously diagnosed with COVID-19. Among 1,305 children given the vaccine, there were 3 cases of COVID-19. Among 663 children given the placebo, there were 16 cases of COVID-19. The results suggest that the vaccine is about 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in this age group.
For kids ages 12 through 15, the FDA reviewed a vaccine study of more than 2,200 U.S. children in this age range. Of this group, about half were given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The other children were given a placebo shot.
A week after the second dose was given, there were no cases of COVID-19 in the 1,005 children given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Among 978 children given the placebo, there were 16 cases of COVID-19. None of the children had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19. The results suggest that the vaccine is 100% effective at preventing COVID-19 in this age group.
What are the side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for kids?
Children given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines had side effects similar to those experienced by people age 16 and older. The most commonly reported side effects include:
- Pain where the shot was given
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Decreased appetite
Similar to adults, children have side effects within 2 days after vaccination that typically last 1 to 3 days. More children reported these side effects, except for injection site pain, after the second dose of the vaccine. However, some people have no side effects.
After your child is given a COVID-19 vaccine, he or she will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes to see if he or she has an allergic reaction that requires treatment.
It isn’t recommended that you give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever before vaccination to prevent side effects. It’s OK to give this kind of medication after your child gets a COVID-19 vaccine.
Can a COVID-19 vaccine give a child COVID-19?
No. The COVID-19 vaccines currently being developed in the U.S. don’t use the live virus that causes COVID-19.
Are there any children who shouldn’t get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine?
This vaccine is not yet available to children younger than age 5. Clinical trials involving younger children are in progress.
The vaccine also shouldn’t be given to a child with a known history of a severe allergic reaction to any of its ingredients. If this is the case, your child might be able to get another COVID-19 vaccine in the future.