Published on November 19, 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 5-11: Frequently asked questions

COVID-19 vaccination FAQ with Dr. Blum

Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 5-11? You're not alone. We've received several questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Watch as Dr. Martha Blum, medical director of infection prevention at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, answers some of the most commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. Hover over the blue dots located on the video progress bar to easily navigate questions that are of interest to you. The full FAQ is also listed below.

Montage Health highly encourages parents to have their children ages 5 years and older get the COVID-19 vaccine. While the risk of severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19 is not high for children, it is possible, and one of the major concerns is that children can spread the illness to others. Montage Health will not be holding public COVID-19 vaccination clinics, but there are plenty of providers in Monterey County available.

Visit MyTurn to schedule appointments and walk-ins for all age groups in Monterey County, including ages 5 years and older.

Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that children and adolescents age 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children and adolescents as a 2-dose series, taken 3 weeks apart. The vaccine dosage for children ages 5–11 is one-third of what is given to older adolescents and adults. Vaccination is the best way to protect children age 5 and older from COVID-19, as it has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have been hospitalized with COVID-19. While children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, it is still possible. The vaccine is safe and effective. Before being authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials of thousands of children. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was rigorously tested and reviewed, and more than 11 million adolescents ages 12–17 have already safely received the COVID-19 vaccine.

What is different about this vaccine from the one currently being given to ages 12 and up?

The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5–11 is the same product that has been given to hundreds of millions of people worldwide in other age groups — in a smaller dose. Children are smaller in stature and they will have an adequate immune response to a smaller dose. Children will receive approximately one-third the amount of what people 12 years and older have gotten.

Will this affect my child’s growth negatively in any way?

Studies for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5–11 did not show any new or different side effects than those that were seen in older children, teens, and adults. Because the vaccine has only been around for a short period of time, there has not been a lot of long-term follow-up for children in this age group. Data from trials will continue to be collected for two years after each vaccine is first administered to ensure that they are safe for the long term. As with all vaccines, there will be ongoing monitoring among people who are vaccinated.

What we do know about the vaccine is that it is not permanently incorporated into any part of the body. The only thing that lasts long-term are the immune responses that are generated by the vaccine. Knowing that, there is not expected to be any long-term physical change to a child’s body after receiving this vaccine.

Will this affect the fertility of my child?

Fertility and long-term consequences for fertility have not been studied in this age group. The data thus far on women of childbearing age, as well as young men, have not shown any adverse effects on fertility and it would be expected that there would be no effect on fertility knowing that this vaccine does not become a permanent part of a person’s body. We don’t have specific data but based on everything we know, we would expect there to be no adverse effect on fertility for boys or girls.

What are the expected side effects?

This vaccine appears to be very similar to the flu vaccine for kids and the side effects are going to be more or less the same as what we saw in young teens and young adults. Children may experience sore arms, feeling tired, feeling achy, and maybe experience a low-grade fever. The good news is that children in the age group 5–11 are receiving a lower dose. They are receiving one-third of the dose, so in many cases the side effects were even more mild. One rare complication that has been linked to the COVID-19 vaccine is myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), and data demonstrate a higher risk for such inflammation among younger males. However, reports of these complications are rare. The risk of developing myocarditis after a COVID-19 infection is much higher than the risk of developing myocarditis after the vaccine. If you have questions about how to protect your children from COVID-19, about the vaccines, or about myocarditis, speak to your healthcare provider or pediatrician.

Why should I get my kids vaccinated if they are not at risk for being hospitalized?

Medical and public health experts, including the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that children and adolescents age 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect them from contracting and spreading the virus. While we know that kids are not at high risk for a serious disease or hospitalization, they can still get sick and they can have long-term complications after COVID-19. COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have been hospitalized with COVID-19. There is a particular inflammatory syndrome that happens only in young children, that we want to avoid because it can be severe, require hospitalization, and have long-term consequences. Other reasons include preventing having to stay home and quarantine, missing school and social events, and having disruptions to the family schedule. And, as long as children are unvaccinated, they will still be a source for this virus to spread in our community and among vulnerable people. Even though there is a direct benefit to children, there is an even bigger benefit to the community at large to try and bring this pandemic to a close so there’s no more widespread circulation of the virus because everyone will be vaccinated.

For the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine and testing sites, and more, visit our COVID-19 vaccination page.

About the Author

Dr. Blum

Martha Lewis Blum, MD, PhD, is board certified in infectious diseases and internal medicine. She received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 2002 and completed her residency and fellowship in infectious diseases at University of California Los Angeles Medical Center... Read more.

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