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Information for Parents and Guardians

Protecting Kids During COVID-19

In November 2021, the children’s COVID-19 vaccination received approval for the 28 million people in the United States ages 5 to 11. This approval came after a clinical trial showed that the vaccine protected 91% of kids from getting sick from COVID-19, without serious side effects.

Initially, all children who get vaccinated will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It contains the same ingredients in a smaller dose for children than adults. (Kids doses are packaged differently—with a bright orange cap.) As with adults, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is administered in two doses, spread three weeks apart.

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Information for Parents and Guardians

Local Vaccination Options

In Howard County, Howard Community College is running pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinics five days a week, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. You may also be able to schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or other health care providers. Some pharmacies are also offering the vaccine. The list of children’s health care providers in Howard County who we know are offering the vaccine is available here, and more will offer the vaccine over time.

For parents, it’s natural to feel a mix of emotions. On this page, you can get answers to common questions—and weigh the risks.

Information for Parents and Guardians

1. What proof is there that children’s COVID-19 vaccination is safe?

More than 3,100 children ages 5 to 11 took part in a clinical trial to measure the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, with no serious side effects.

As with adults, some children do experience temporary side effects. Commonly reported side effects in the clinical trial included a sore arm where the shot was administered, redness and swelling, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and decreased appetite.

Side effects generally began within two days after vaccination, and most went away within one to two days. More children reported side effects after the second dose than after the first dose.

Side Effects vs Risks

It’s important to compare the side effects of vaccination to the potential risk of getting COVID-19 while unvaccinated. While deaths of children from COVID-19 are rare, at least 491 children have died from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, other children are still experiencing long-term effects of a condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). MIS-C is caused by COVID-19. Children’s body parts become inflamed during MIS-C, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and organs.

Information for Parents and Guardians

2. What proof is there that the children’s COVID-19 vaccine is effective in protecting against COVID-19?

The clinical trial showed about a 91% rate of protection for children ages 5 to 11 (90.7%, to be exact), which is about the same level of effectiveness as for adults ages 16 to 25.

Additionally, research shows the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 12 through 15.

Early research also suggests that the vaccine is 96% effective at preventing severe disease with COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant, the most common COVID-19 variant in the U.S right now.

As new variants emerge, like Omicron, research will continue to measure the effect of vaccination. For Omicron, early research indicates vaccination prevents serious illness and booster doses improve protection from serious disease.

Information for Parents and Guardians

Weigh the risks

Vaccinated

If you choose to vaccinate your children (ages 5-11)

UNvaccinated

If you choose not to vaccinate your children (ages 5-11)

Vaccinated

Risks

Research has shown the vaccine is effective at preventing severe illness and death among children. In terms of risk, some children might experience mild side effects after vaccination (sore arm, tiredness) but most clear up within 48 hours.

*Your child is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

UNVaccinated

Risks

Your child is at a higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19 than they were earlier in the pandemic. The new variants, like the Delta variant that emerged in the summer of 2021, travel through the air very easily and are making children sick. At least 491 children have died from COVID-19.

Vaccinated

Side Effects

Your child may experience mild to moderate side effects for one to two days, especially after the second dose. Some side effects include a sore arm where the shot was administered, redness and swelling, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, chills, fever and swollen lymph nodes. 

UNVaccinated

Side Effects

Your child may experience life-threatening illness from COVID-19. While many children suffer no effect or mild effects from COVID-19, some develop Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), which is life-threatening because it inflames the child’s heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. 

Vaccinated

School & Education

If there is a COVID-19 exposure in your child’s school, your child won't need to quarantine or get a COVID-19 test after a known exposure if he or she doesn't have symptoms, with some exceptions for specific settings.

UNVaccinated

School & Education

After a direct COVID-19 exposure, your child will need to quarantine for at least seven days. After five days, they can get tested and if results are negative and they are asymptomatic, they can return to school after eight days. If you choose not to test your child, they will need to quarantine for 10 days.

Vaccinated

In Public

After becoming fully vaccinated, your child will more safely be able to do things such as playing sports, indoor playdates with other children and visits with relatives. This may be especially meaningful for family celebrations and the holidays.

UNVaccinated

In Public

Your child should continue to maintain six feet of social distancing and wear a face mask in any public indoor space. Your child should continue to avoid multi-household gatherings—avoiding holiday meals indoors with relatives from more than one additional household, for example. With the Delta variant, this is more important than ever. In addition, many sports teams and indoor activity centers may require vaccination for participation, and in some cases, your child may not be able to participate in these activities. Learn more here

Vaccinated

Caregiving

You can make an appointment to get your child vaccinated at their pediatrician’s office or go to a health clinic or pharmacy – scheduled for a time that is relatively convenient for you. Certainly, taking time off from school and work to take your child to the doctor can be challenging—but at least you can plan for it, and expect it will happen when you’ve scheduled it.

UNVaccinated

Caregiving

Children’s illnesses don’t follow a schedule. If your child gets even a mild case of COVID-19, they will miss school and you or another caregiver will miss work to care for them. 

Information for Parents and Guardians

Further Information

Still have questions? Check out our site to learn more about side effects, tips to help you plan, and information on vaccine ingredients.

Ready to book an appointment for your child? Start here.

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Find vaccine locations.