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10 Things to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine for Children

Information to Share with Parents, Caregivers & Communities

1. The COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 is safe and effective.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children is over 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 through 11 years.

Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, scientists conducted clinical trials and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine met the safety and efficacy standards for emergency authorization in children ages 5 through 11 years.

2. Getting a vaccine can help protect children ages 5 years and older from spreading COVID-19 to others.

Vaccinating children ages 5 years and older can:

  • Protect the entire family ─ including siblings who are not yet eligible for vaccination and family members who may be at increased risk of getting very sick if they are infected.

  • Keep them in school and safely participating in sports, play-dates, and other group activities.

  • Help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

3. A child may have some side effects after vaccination ─ which are normal signs their body is building protection.

In the clinical trials with children ages 5 through 11 years, no serious safety concerns were identified. Reported side effects were mild and similar to those experienced after routine vaccines.

Possible side effects among children after COVID-19 vaccination may include:

  • Soreness at the injection site

  • Headaches

  • Muscle aches

  • Low-grade fevers

These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some children have no side effects. The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks.

4. The COVID-19 vaccine dose given to children ages 5 through 11 years is not the same as the dose given to adults and teens. It is based on age ─ not weight.

Unlike many medications, COVID-19 vaccine dosage does not vary by patient weight but by age on the day of vaccination. This is also true for other routinely recommended vaccines, like flu or hepatitis vaccines.

Children will need a second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine three weeks after their first shot.

  • More than one dose is necessary for your child to have the most protection and build greater immunity.

  • If a child turns from 11 to 12 years of age in between their first and second dose, the second dose should be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine people 12 years and older. However, if a child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years for their second dose, they do not need to repeat the dose and they will still be considered fully vaccinated.

5. The COVID-19 vaccine given to adults and teens cannot be given to children ages 5 through 11.

The COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults and teens.

The COVID-19 vaccine for children comes in a different vial with a different color cap to make it clear to vaccine providers which vaccine is for children ages 5 through 11 years and which is for people ages 12 years and older.

6. COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored for safety with the most comprehensive and intense vaccine safety monitoring program in U.S. history.

CDC monitors the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines – in addition to all other vaccines – after the vaccines are authorized or approved for use. This includes monitoring the risk of potential adverse events after vaccination – including myocarditis and pericarditis in children ages 5 through 11 years.

7. Severe reactions after vaccination are possible, but rare.

If a child experiences a severe allergic reaction, vaccine providers can quickly treat it and call for emergency medical services if needed.

Reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation) in adolescents and young adults are rare. We don’t yet know what the risk will be in younger children, but scientists are continuing to monitor this. In general, adolescents ages 12 through 17 years have a higher risk for myocarditis than children ages 5 through 11 years. Most adolescents who have developed this condition after vaccination have responded well to treatment and recovered quickly.

8. Children can safely receive other vaccines the same day they receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine can be given on the same day and time as other vaccines, including flu and other routine vaccines.

Routine vaccination is an essential preventive care service that should not be delayed. Getting caught up on routine vaccinations as soon as possible will provide protection and minimize the number of healthcare visits needed to complete vaccination.

If multiple vaccines are administered at a single visit, each injection will be given in a different injection site, according to recommendations by age. For example, it may be administered in a different arm or 1 inch from the other injection site.

9. Vaccination can help keep children from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19.

COVID-19 can make children very sick and cause children to be hospitalized. In some situations, complications from infection can lead to death.

Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with children without underlying medical conditions.

Some children who get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can also develop serious complications like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) — a condition where different body parts become inflamed ─ including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.

10. Children who have already had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine.

CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for everyone ages 5 years and older, including those who have already had COVID-19.

Emerging evidence indicates that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having just been infected with COVID-19.

Children should wait to be vaccinated until they meet the criteria to stop quarantine or isolation.

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