COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids

COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids 5-11 Years Old

While COVID-19 tends to be milder in children compared with adults, it can make children very sick and cause children to be hospitalized. In some situations, the complications from infection can lead to death. The delta variant surge has led to millions of child infections and hospitalizations, and in September 2021 alone, 41 children died of COVID-19 in the United States.

Why should my child get vaccinated?

Although children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 compared with adults, children can:

  • Be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Get very sick from COVID-19
  • Have both short and long-term health complications from COVID-19
  • Spread COVID-19 to others

Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with children without underlying medical conditions. Children who get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can also develop serious complications that require hospitalization. 

How does the vaccine protect my child and family?

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect children ages 5 years and older from getting COVID-19.

  • Vaccinating children can help protect family members, including siblings who are not eligible for vaccination and family members who may be at increased risk of getting very sick if they are infected.
  • Vaccination can also help keep children from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19.
  • Vaccinating children ages 5 years and older can help keep them in school and help them safely participate in sports, playdates, and other group activities.

Is the vaccine safe?

Scientists have conducted clinical trials with about 3,000 children and the FDA has determined that the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine has met the safety and efficacy standards for authorization in children ages 5 through 15 years. In addition, the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine has now been FDA-approved for people ages 16 and older. 

COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored for safety with the most comprehensive and intense safety monitoring program in U.S. history. CDC monitors the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines after the vaccines are authorized or approved for use, including the risk of myocarditis in children ages 5 through 11 years.

  • Your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including flu vaccine, at the same time.
  • Serious health events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.
  • Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 12–17 years. These reactions are rare; in one study, the risk of myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech in the week following vaccination was around 54 cases per million doses administered to males ages 12–17 years.
  • severe allergic reaction, like anaphylaxis, may happen after any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, but this is rare.
  • Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine. Learn more about how mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, work.
  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems.

The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks.

What vaccine dosage will my child receive?

  • Children ages 5 through 11 years receive one-third of the adult dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Smaller needles, designed specifically for children, are used for children ages 5 through 11 years.
  • Adolescents ages 12 years and older receive the same dosage of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as adults.
  • COVID-19 vaccine dosage does not vary by patient weight but by age on the day of vaccination.
  • Your child will need a second shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine three weeks after their first shot.

How do I prepare my child for vaccination?

The experience of getting a COVID-19 vaccine will be very similar to the experience of getting routine vaccines.

  • Talk to your child before vaccination about what to expect.
  • It is not recommended you give pain relievers before vaccination to try to prevent side effects.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse about any allergies your child may have.
  • To prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting, your child should be seated or lying down during vaccination and for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.
  • After your child’s COVID-19 vaccination, you will be asked to stay for 15–30 minutes so your child can be observed in case they have a severe allergic reaction and need immediate treatment.

Are COVID-19 vaccine side effects the same in children?

Your child may have some side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection.

Your child might notice pain at the injection site (upper arm redness or swelling), and could feel more tired than usual. Headache, achy muscles or joints, and even fever, chills, and nausea are also possible. These side effects are usually temporary and generally clear up within 48 hours.

Does going back to school increase my child’s risk of catching or transmitting the coronavirus?

The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is a concern among those who have not been vaccinated, including children. With that in mind, the CDC has updated its recommendations for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools and recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, as well as physical distancing and other precautions. Having your teen or child vaccinated as soon as he or she is eligible will help prevent infections and spread of COVID-19. 


Additional Resources

Sources: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Johns Hopkins University.