NOV 08, 2021 10:00 AM PST

COVID-19 Vaccines Approved for Children 5-11

WRITTEN BY: Hannah Daniel

It's has been a long time coming. COVID-19 vaccinations from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson were offered to all US adults beginning in March, and the age range available for vaccinations has been slowly dropping. But as kids are headed back to in-person education full time, parents have been waiting anxiously for vaccine approval for their children. This month, children 5-11 have finally been approved to start getting their COVID-19 vaccines.

In the video above, Dr. Dean Blumberg, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital, reports that there have been 1.8 million COVID-19 infections in children 5-11. Since COVID-19 has been the 8th leading cause of death in children of this age range, he urges parents to strongly consider getting their children vaccinated. This rollout will allow 28 million more children to receive the Pfizer BioNTechCOVID-19 vaccine.

However, the vaccinations are not quite the same as the ones adults receive. These vaccines are pediatric, meaning that they are 1/3 dosage of the adult vaccines. It doesn't make them any less effective, though. The clinical trials, which included more than 3,000 children, found the vaccine more than 90% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, the American Academy of Pediatrics news reports.

As for parents worried about new and dangerous side effects from the vaccine, the clinical trials showed the same side effects seen as in other vaccinated age groups: pain, fatigue, and headaches. The more serious adverse effects: anaphylaxis and myocarditis, were not observed in the trials, but that may have been because of the rarity of these side effects and the sample size of the tests. It's possible that myocarditis, one of the most severe COVID vaccine side effects that causes heart muscle inflammation, could occur in some children. However, since 5–11-year-olds are less prone to myocarditis, doctors hope that this will also translate to vaccine side effects.

Pediatricians will be the leading group administering vaccinations to children, so experts recommend parents consult with their pediatricians to discuss possible risks for their children. 

Vaccination appointments at pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid will also begin this weekend. In an interview with the Tribune-Review, Dr. Mike Green— a physician at the UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh­­­— had this to say: "[COVID-19 is] a more common cause of death than influenza, which has had vaccine recommendations in place for this age group for a long time. There have been 600 children across the United States who've died during the pandemic. You can say that that's not a very big number compared to the hundreds of thousands of deaths we've had in the country overall, but just imagine if it was your child or your grandchild – and it's a preventable disease."

Sources: American Association of Pediatricians, Tribune-Review

About the Author
  • Hannah Daniel (she/they) is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology with an additional minor in Creative Writing. She is currently located in the Washington D.C. area pursuing freelance writing opportunities and full-time science communications positions.
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