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.
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.
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.
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.
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.