COVID-19 vaccine for young children is here!

8 questions answered

It’s a moment many parents and caregivers have long-awaited — the COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized for children ages 6 months and older! We can now provide infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with the best defense against COVID-19.

As this much-anticipated news comes, we understand that you may still have questions and wonder if the vaccine is right for your child.

8 Questions about the COVID-19 vaccine authorization for children under 5

Who is the vaccine authorized for?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized Pfizer’s 3-dose vaccine series for children 6 months to 4 years and Moderna’s 2-dose vaccine series for children ages 6 months and up.

This expands eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children and means that all people in the U.S. ages 6 months and older are now eligible for vaccination.

Is it safe for this age group?

The vaccine underwent the most rigorous safety testing in history. That’s part of the reason it took a longer time to become available for this age group. Clinical trials showed that COVID-19 vaccines for children in this age group are safe and effective.

Studies from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech found there were no severe allergic reactions or serious side effects reported in either study.

Several medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (an association for pediatricians) also strongly recommend the vaccine.

Is it necessary for my child to get vaccinated?

Vaccination is your child’s best defense against a severe COVID-19 infection. Panels of medical experts from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the vaccine for this age group after reviewing the safety and effectiveness data on the shots. Both panels unanimously found that the benefits of vaccination for children 6 months and up outweigh any risks.

The CDC explains that getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than natural immunity from getting sick with COVID-19 — even for children. For those that develop some immunity after infection, there is no way to know how strong that protection is, how long it will last, or even which variant the immunity is for. Because we cannot rely on natural immunity to prevent reinfection or severe illness from COVID-19, being up to date on vaccination remains the best defense against COVID-19.

The known risks of COVID-19 and possible severe complications — such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death — far outweigh any rare potential risks of having an adverse reaction to vaccination.

Even if your child has had COVID-19, the CDC still strongly recommends they get vaccinated and recover fully during their isolation period to protect against reinfection. Children who already had COVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery.

Getting your child vaccinated will provide better peace of mind, and protection, for your whole family — especially as children attend daycare, camps, and prepare for a return to preschool and elementary classrooms.

How does the dosage differ from the other age groups?

Health experts worked to find the right dose that provides the best protection with the fewest side effects.

For the Pfizer vaccine, children ages 6 months through 4 years old receive 3 3-microgram doses (compared to the two 10-microgram doses children ages 5 through 11 receive, and the two 30-microgram doses adolescent/adult vaccine ages 12 and older receive).

For the Moderna vaccine, children ages 6 months through 5 years receive two 25-microgram doses (compared to the two 50-microgram doses children ages 6 through 12 receive, and the two100-micgrogram doses adolescent/adult vaccine ages 12 and older receive).

What’s the difference between Pfizer and Moderna?

You now have multiple options for your child’s vaccine.

You can feel confident in the safety and efficacy of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While both are mRNA vaccines there are a few differences between Pfizer and Moderna for this age group.

  • Number of doses: the Pfizer vaccine is a 3-dose series, while the Moderna vaccine is 2 doses (though kids who are immunocompromised would get an additional Moderna primary dose). The exact dosage for each shot also varies, as noted above.
  • Schedule: There are different schedules for each, making the time for full immunity vary between shots. Protection begins in about 2 weeks after completing the last dose in the primary series.
  • With Pfizer, the first 2 shots are given 3 weeks apart. The third can be given at least 8 weeks after the second. In total, it can take almost 3 months for the child to have the full series.
  • With Moderna, the 2 shots are given 4 weeks apart.
  • Efficacy: Both vaccines were found to be effective for this age group, with Pfizer’s vaccine having higher overall efficacy from the trials.

Where can I take my child to get vaccinated?

You have a few options for getting your child’s cost-free vaccine:

  • Check with your child’s healthcare provider about whether they offer COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available for children.
  • You can also check Vaccine Locator to find and schedule an appointment or call 1–833-VAX-HELP (833–829–4357), then press #. Language assistance is available.
  • Families who do not have a health care provider already can call the Help Me Grow WA Hotline at 1–800–322–2588 or go to ParentHelp123.org to find a health care provider, clinic, or other health resources. This service is free and language assistance is available.

Don’t be discouraged if it takes time to find a site near you. Many vaccine sites are awaiting supplies for this age group so not all vaccine locations are ready to immediately provide vaccinations to this age group. Keep checking back, as supplies are increasing.

Once your appointment is scheduled, check the CDC’s tips to support your child before, during, and after routine vaccinations and this vaccine checklist for parents and caregivers.

What are some of the side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine I should watch for?

Reported side effects are mild, temporary and like those experienced after other routine vaccines. Some children have no side effects.

Learn more about potential side effects in children after COVID-19 vaccination.

Will my child need a COVID-19 vaccine before the school year?

There is no school or childcare requirement for COVID-19 vaccine at this time — although it is recommended. You should ensure your children are caught up on all required and recommended vaccines ahead of the school year. Check with your health care provider to confirm your child is up to date.

More Information

This blog is accurate as of the date of posting. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at coronavirus.wa.gov. You can also sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 6 months and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today: WANotify.org

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington State may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

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