For about the past month, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have been available for children as young as 5 years old. We know many parents have questions about vaccinating their young children against COVID-19. Dr. Michelle Dorwart, CHCB Maternal-Child Health Provider and member of the Vermont Chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics, has put together a short video as well as the following write-up to help address common areas of concern.
The Vermont Language Justice Project has also interpreted an informational video from UVM Medical Center’s Dr. Andrea Green about pediatric COVID vaccines in the following languages:
American Sign Language | العربية Arabic | မြန်မာစာ Burmese | Français French | Kirundi | नेपाली Nepali | Soomaali Somali | Español Spanish | Swahili | Tiếng Việt Vietnamese
Are the vaccines safe for children?
At this point, COVID-19 vaccines are among the most highly studied and scrutinized vaccines in history. There have been rare cases of significant side effects, but the vaccines have proven to be extremely safe and effective.
Over 3,000 5-11-year-olds participated in the Pfizer vaccine trial, and no serious side effects were reported. In the past month, nearly 3 million children ages 5-11 have been vaccinated in the US. So far, no serious side effects have been reported. (Not to mention the more than 4 billion people who have been vaccinated worldwide, including over 100 million people fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, of whom 12.6 million are 12-17 years old.)
The dose for children ages 5-11 is smaller than the dose for those ages 12 and older. This is because young children have robust immune systems and can make a great response with a smaller dose. Like older people, they should still receive a second dose 3 weeks after the first.
The dose for children ages 12 and older is the same as the adult dose; they should also receive a second dose 3 weeks after the first. We do not yet know whether children will require booster doses; however, booster doses are common for pediatric vaccines so that is possible.
Side effects for 5-11 year olds are similar to those seen for routine pediatric vaccination – fever, sore arm, body aches, headache. In adolescents and particularly adolescent males, there have been rare instances of myocarditis which is inflammation around the heart. These cases have generally been mild and treated with ibuprofen. Myocarditis and other serious side effects have not been reported in children ages 5-11 so far.
What about long-term side effects?
People often wonder about “long-term” side effects…but long-term side effects with respect to vaccines are really on the order of weeks to months. The vaccine enters our body, our body responds to it by making antibodies and then by processing and excreting the vaccine components. The antibodies (which were made by our body) are the only thing that remain.
Vaccines do not affect fertility. They do not alter DNA. They do not contain tracking devices or other implantable devices.
If COVID-19 causes mild illness in children, isn’t it better for them to get natural immunity by just getting infected?
While it’s true that most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild, the risks associated with an infection remain significantly higher than the risks associated with a COVID-19 vaccine.
We want people to get COVID-19 antibodies, and vaccines are the less risky way to get those antibodies.
If you’d like to get your child vaccinated, you can:
- Register for an appointment on the Vermont Department of Health website. Our off-site vaccination clinic at 294 N. Winooski Ave is available through this system and has pediatric vaccine available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
- Come to a routine office visit with your child if they are 12 or older. We can give them (and you, if needed!) a shot when they are here!
Soon, we will have vaccine doses available for children ages 5-11. The supply will increase as the availability increases in the state.
Thank you for your time and attention! We’re always very happy to answer any other questions you have, so please don’t hesitate to ask.