The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to kids ages 5–11 in Richmond and Henrico!
On November 2, CDC took the final necessary step and recommended use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 (authorized under EUA by FDA last week). As of October 2021, about 1.9 million children ages 5–11 years have been infected with COVID-19, 8,300 children have been hospitalized, and 146 children have died. The COVID vaccine is our most powerful tool to protect our children against COVID-19 and limit disruptions to the school year due to COVID-19 cases in school communities. Here is everything you need to know about how the vaccine works and how to help your child get vaccinated when your family is ready.
How effective is the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11?
Data from Pfizer shows that the vaccine has a 90.7% efficacy rate at preventing symptomatic infection in clinical trials. (Efficacy is the term used to describe how well a vaccine worked in clinical trials.)
How is the dose different for kids ages 5 to 11 than kids 12 and older?
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 5–11-year-olds is ⅓ the dose used for people 12 and older (10 micrograms versus 30 micrograms). However, this lower dose has produced a powerful immune response in children ages 5–11 in clinical trials (90.7% efficacy) and protects children very well against symptomatic infection, hospitalization, and death.
If my child will turn 12 soon, is it better to get them vaccinated with the lower dose or wait until they are eligible for the larger dose available to people 12 and older?
Both the 30 microgram Pfizer vaccine dose for kids 12 and older and the 10 microgram dose for kids 5 to 11 are very safe and effective for children in their respective age groups. If your child is 11 your best bet is to vaccinate them as soon as you are comfortable doing so.
Does a child’s height or weight matter in terms of dosing?
No. The 10 microgram vaccine dose is highly effective for 5–11-year-olds regardless of height or weight. The smaller dose was chosen to provide a good immune response while reducing the risk of side effects in this age group, and a child’s immune response to this vaccine doesn’t depend on their size.
Do I need to space out the COVID-19 vaccine from other vaccines my child might receive?
Now that more data is available about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccine, the CDC says there is no need to space out the COVID vaccine from any other vaccines your child may receive. This means multiple vaccines can be administered on the same day.
When should I schedule my child’s second dose?
The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5–11 should be administered three weeks after the first dose. You may want to schedule your second dose on the day your child receives their first dose to make sure you have an appointment in the right time frame.
What are the possible side effects for kids in this age group?
More than 3,000 children received this Pfizer vaccine during clinical trials, and the most common side effects were similar to those of older kids and adults who received the Pfizer vaccine: pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache. Less common side effects included chills, muscle or joint pain, fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, and decreased appetite. Side effects were more common after the second dose. Side effects mostly occurred within two days of receiving the vaccine and went away within one or two days. None of the 3,000 children experienced serious adverse effects, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle).
Could the COVID-19 vaccine affect my child’s growth or development?
No. There is no reason to believe that the COVID-19 vaccine available in the United States will affect your child’s growth or development, including puberty, brain development, or fertility.
Are there any children in this age group who are not eligible for the vaccine? What if my child has underlying conditions or is immunocompromised?
The vaccine is not recommended for anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of a COVID vaccine or a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of this vaccine. You should also tell your vaccination provider about all of your child’s medical conditions, especially if your child:
Has any allergies
Has had myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart)
Has a fever
Has a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
Is immunocompromised or is on a medicine that affects the immune system
Has ever fainted in association with an injection.
If my child has already had a confirmed COVID-19 infection, do they still need to be vaccinated?
Yes. Even if your child has had an infection, they will still benefit from vaccination. Compared with the natural immunity that results from previous infection, vaccination provides broader and stronger protection against the virus and its potential long-term effects.
When and where will the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 be offered?
Children’s vaccines are available at the Arthur Ashe Center as of November 8 and at all other RHHD vaccination events as of November 4. Walk-ups are welcome at these and other RHHD COVID-19 vaccination events, but appointments are also available on the VASE+ website or by calling our call center at (804) 205-3501. Many pediatrician’s offices, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers across our region will also be receiving doses for kids ages 5–11. We suggest contacting your pediatrician’s office to make an appointment, checking vaccines.gov to find a pharmacy or other clinic near you that offers the vaccine, or finding an RHHD vaccination event that works for you.
What sort of permission or consent is needed for a child ages 5–11 to get the COVID vaccine?
A legal parent, guardian, or other adult who has been given permission by a parent or guardian must sign a consent form for a child ages 5–11 to receive the vaccine. The form is electronic and can be signed on-site at the vaccination clinic. An adult must also accompany the child to the vaccination appointment, though it is not required that the adult be the child’s legal guardian.
How can I get proof of my child’s vaccination record?