What to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 and up

Research shows that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing people from getting COVID-19 altogether and preventing serious illness in those who do become infected.

By AdventHealth

We know that taking care of your little ones is at the top of your mind every day, especially throughout the pandemic. You taught them to social distance. You made sure they wore a mask at school. You kept them safe and healthy — and now you’re wondering if the next step is getting them vaccinated.

The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for children ages five and older, and we want to be sure you have all the facts about vaccination.

COVID-19 risks for children

While children are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 than adults, it’s important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows there have been more than 1.9 million reported cases of COVID-19 among children 5 to 11.

Many children who contract COVID-19 are hospitalized for their symptoms, and according to the CDC, approximately 8,300 COVID-19 cases in children 5 through 11 years of age resulted in hospitalization. As of October 17, 146 of those cases resulted in death. There’s also a growing risk of a COVID-linked disorder called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, which can impact the heart and other organs.

Research shows that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing people from getting COVID-19 altogether and preventing serious illness in those who do become infected. The CDC says the vaccination can also help prevent children from spreading the disease to others.

Children who have already had COVID-19 are still encouraged to get the vaccine. It’s recommended to wait three months after their initial diagnosis to get the vaccine. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about the best time to schedule their vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children

Extensive clinical trials were conducted with thousands of participants, including those 12 and older, to evaluate the COVID-19 vaccine and generate scientific data and other information for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine its safety and effectiveness.

The FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for ages 16+ (authorized under EUA for ages 12 and up). The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children aged 5 through 11 who received the vaccine, and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study.

Pfizer says a clinical trial showed its vaccine provides 90.7% protection against symptomatic disease among children, even at one-third the dose (the approved dosage for children 5 to 11).

Your child may experience side effects

It’s important to know that your child cannot get COVID-19 from a vaccine. However, children may experience side effects and feel a bit under the weather for a few days. That’s a good sign that their body is building up defenses against COVID-19.

The lower dose of the pediatric vaccine reduces the risk of any side effects in younger children. But those who did experience side effects in trials reported similar side effects as adults. These include chills, fever, headache, muscle aches, nausea, pain, redness or swelling at the injection site and tiredness.

To soothe a sore arm, apply a cool, wet washcloth to the area. To help them feel better with a fever, give them extra fluids and dress them in lightweight clothing. In addition, the CDC says it’s OK to take over-the-counter medicine to ease discomfort after the shot, but your child should not take any beforehand.

To find a primary care physician in the AdventHealth network who’s right for you and your family, visit MyHealthKC.com.