Kids ages 5 to 11 are eligible to get Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other experts recommend that kids get their shots as soon as possible. But many parents—and kids—have questions.
Here are some key questions and answers about the COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids.
Does it work?
Yes. The Pfizer vaccine is nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in young children. This is similar to adult vaccines.
Is the dose different?
Yes. It is one-third the adult dose. (By the way, providers also use smaller needles to give this vaccine.)
How many shots do kids need?
Kids need two doses (three weeks apart) for full protection.
Is the vaccine safe?
It is. The Pfizer vaccine was studied in more than 3,000 children and found to be safe. The FDA OK'd the vaccine for emergency use in younger kids after concluding that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the known and potential risks.
Are there any side effects?
Some kids have no side effects. Others may have mild side effects that last one or two days. The most common reactions include a sore arm, tiredness or a headache. This is normal. Serious side effects (such as severe allergic reactions) are rare with COVID-19 vaccines. No children ages 5 to 11 in the vaccine trial had a serious side effect.
Why should kids get the vaccine?
There are several reasons to vaccinate your child:
- It protects their health. Although COVID-19 is often more serious in adults than in children, kids can get very sick. Between the start of the pandemic and Oct. 10, 2021, about 1.9 million kids between ages 5 and 11 were infected, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports. Of these, more than 8,300 were hospitalized, and 94 died.
- It helps keep them in school and social activities that have been disrupted by the pandemic. Such activities are important to children's education and emotional well-being.
When and where can kids get the shot?
To find out if shots are ready in your area, call your child's doctor or contact a pharmacy or the health department.
How can I learn more?
Talk with your child's healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about the vaccine.
You can learn more about COVID-19 in our Coronavirus health topic center.