Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine is Authorized for Kids Ages 5 and Older
Big news, Washington families! After rigorous testing and months of clinical trials, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized for children ages 5–11. It’s emotional news for kids and parents alike.
For some, the assurance of a vaccine for your child may feel like a weight has finally lifted. Others may need some time to process the information. No matter how you feel, it’s OK to have questions. And it’s OK (and expected!) for your child to have questions, too.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll discuss the vaccine and what it means for kids. We’re starting with just the facts.
Why is this important?
Children have always been at risk of getting COVID-19. That risk has increased with new COVID-19 variants that are more dangerous and infectious to children than the original strains. As of early November, nearly 6.6 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.
While children often have more mild cases of COVID-19 compared to adults, they can still become very sick and even die. COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have gotten really sick — some with long-lasting symptoms. And it’s hard to predict which kids may be at a higher risk.
The vaccine is the best way to protect children from becoming severely ill or having long-lasting health impacts due to COVID-19. Research shows COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent reinfection.
Vaccination is also the best way to help protect the more vulnerable people around your kids, like younger siblings, immunocompromised community members, grandparents, and other higher risk people. This can help us all slow COVID-19’s spread in our communities.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for this age group?
COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Before the vaccines were authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials.
About 3,100 children ages 5 through 11 received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials. Researchers found that the vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 through 11. No serious side effects were detected in the study.
Is it the same vaccine older kids and adults got?
The ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine are the same for kids in this age group, but the dosage is smaller. Kids ages 5–11 receive a dose that’s 10 micrograms, compared to the 30 micrograms dose for people 12 and older who receive the Pfizer vaccine. The lower dose was chosen to minimize side effects, but still prompt a strong immune response.
The needle used is also smaller, to accommodate for the smaller arms of kids this age.
Otherwise, the process for this vaccine is the same for people of all ages. Your child will receive two doses, three weeks apart. They’re considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose.
What are the side effects like?
The most common side effects are similar to other age groups. This includes a sore arm, tiredness, headache, and muscle pain. These symptoms are usually mild.
In clinical trials, more children reported side effects after the second dose than after the first dose. Like adults, kids typically felt better in one to two days. If you have questions about side effects, it’s best to ask your child’s health care provider.
Who recommends the vaccine for kids?
Following the authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), several medical experts and public health groups recommended the vaccine for kids ages 5 and older. These groups include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. We encourage you to visit each organization to learn more about their recommendations. Ultimately the decisions come down to protecting children, and those around them, from COVID-19.
How can I book an appointment?
Call your child’s pediatrician or health care provider to see if they offer the vaccine, or find a site through Vaccine Locator. Your child can even get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time they get other vaccines (like the flu vaccine).
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t get an appointment right away or need to contact a few health care providers. Initially, the COVID-19 vaccine doses for children may be limited. We expect supply to increase within a few weeks.
What should I do to prepare for an appointment?
- Go with your child to their appointment. You may need to provide consent to vaccinate someone under age 18.
- Bring photo ID for your child if you have it. This is not required, but recommended.
- Remember to book their second dose!
- Take a photo of their vaccine card, or make a photocopy of it; and put the original card somewhere you won’t forget it. You can also sign up for WA Verify.
Will other vaccines be available for kids soon?
Right now, the Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for kids ages 5–17. Trials for kids are ongoing for the other vaccines that are currently available to adults.
Will my child have to provide proof of vaccination to go to school or enter businesses?
The Washington State Board of Health determines which vaccines are required for schools and childcare. There is no school or child care requirement for the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.
Some places — like restaurants and concert venues — may ask for proof of vaccination for you and your eligible family members. It’s best to call a business first to find out their requirements.
To learn more about vaccinating kids, visit VaccinateWA.org/kids.
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 5 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.