Kids ages 5-11 are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination! It’s natural and normal to ask questions about the big decisions you make on behalf of your children. Getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19 is no exception. That’s why we’ve put together some answers to questions you might have about getting your child vaccinated for COVID-19.
Is it safe for my child to get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Medical experts agree that getting 5-11 year olds vaccinated against COVID-19 is a safe and healthy choice to protect your child. Researchers, pediatricians, epidemiologists, and other experts conducted extensive testing and a review of the evidence for safety and effectiveness recommending the use of this vaccine for children. Scientists studied how the vaccine worked in over 4,500 children who ranged in age from six months old to 11 years old. They looked at how well the vaccine worked, and they looked for any adverse reactions or side effects.
The independent FDA and CDC committees reviewed and discussed the data from the clinical trials. After looking at that evidence, those groups of experts determined the Pfizer vaccine to be safe - and effective - for kids aged 5-11.
Is the vaccine for kids the same as the one for adults?
The vaccine that is available for use in kids who are 5 - 11 years old - the Pfizer vaccine - is the same vaccine as the one used for adults, but the dosage used for younger kids is smaller. The vaccine dose for kids ages 5-11 is one-third the dose for older children and adults. This is partly because their immune systems are so strong and responsive so they don’t need as large a dose as older kids and adults. Researchers in the clinical trials chose a smaller dose for children that would be effective and safe for their bodies.
Are there any side effects for kids?
With any vaccine, there’s always a risk of side effects. Since side effects from vaccines usually happen a short time after getting vaccinated, scientists are able to look for side effects during clinical trials.
Your child might experience some mild side effects in the days right after they get their shot. They might have a sore arm, feel tired, or have some swelling or inflammation near where they got their shot. These side effects are normal and are a sign that the vaccine is doing its job to train their immune system.
There have been cases of heart inflammation -- myocarditis or pericarditis -- after being vaccinated for COVID-19 with an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer). However, myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination is quite rare. Most cases have been in teen and young adult males, usually several days after vaccination. Myocarditis can also be a complication of having COVID-19, and the risk of heart inflammation is much greater after COVID-19 infection than after vaccination. Public health and medical experts agree that the benefit of getting vaccinated is greater than the risk of heart inflammation.
If you have questions about getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19, talk to your child’s health care provider, just like you would for your other health concerns.
But I thought kids weren’t at as great a risk from COVID-19 as adults? Why should they get vaccinated?
Although it’s true that COVID-19 is less severe for most children than for adults, that doesn’t mean kids are safe from COVID-19. COVID-19 is an unpredictable virus. We know that older adults and people with chronic health conditions are more vulnerable, but healthy, younger adults -- and children -- have also become seriously ill. We also know the vaccine works, with very little risk.
The risk of severe COVID-19 infection in kids isn’t zero. It’s true that children tend to have milder symptoms, but severe cases that require hospitalization do happen. Unfortunately, more kids have been hospitalized since the Delta variant caused case rates to skyrocket again.
Recent real-world studies are starting to show that the COVID-19 vaccine works well to prevent older kids from being hospitalized for COVID-19. A recent CDC study found that full vaccination reduced adolescent’s risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 by 93%
The risks associated with COVID-19 infection don’t end at the hospital. We’re learning more and more about long-haul COVID-19 in kids. Researchers are still studying this, but it's clear that some children, even children who have relatively mild COVID symptoms, can have long-haul symptoms, like trouble breathing, brain fog, or tiredness. Experiencing those symptoms even for a few weeks or months is hard on a child’s body and can keep them out of school and limit their ability to do the things they love every day - like visiting grandparents or playing with friends.
Vaccines of all kinds help kids get a healthy start in life. They protect kids from many diseases that our parents and grandparents suffered from, like measles, polio, and whooping cough. But now kids don’t have to suffer from those illnesses, and they also don’t need to suffer from COVID-19.
Where can my child get vaccinated?
You can find a provider that can vaccinate 5-11 year olds at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov. Make sure you get an appointment, and call ahead or check the provider’s website to confirm availability for 5-11 year old doses.
Since many vaccine providers aren’t able to vaccinate young children, and because the dosing is different, there aren’t as many providers available to vaccinate 5-11 year olds as there are for everyone else. In the early weeks of the roll out for 5-11 year olds, there also may be a limited supply, so we ask everyone to be patient and plan ahead for their child’s vaccination.
Despite these challenges, there are a few options for pediatric COVID-19 vaccination this week:
- We will be offering pediatric COVID-19 vaccines alongside the pop-up clinic in the Old Lynden Middle School Cafeteria at 516 Main Street in Lynden on Friday, November 5, between 4 and 7 p.m. The link to register for this clinic will be ready to share tomorrow, November 4, at around noon. We’ll post the link on our Facebook page, local vaccine clinic list and on our new pediatric COVID-19 vaccine page.
- We’re holding more pediatric vaccination clinics in the coming weeks and will announce the locations, dates and times on our social media channels and vaccine page.
- Nooksack Valley Drug will also have vaccines this week and is able to vaccinate 5-11 year old kids. You can make an appointment at NooksackValleyDrug.com.
- PeaceHealth is another regular Pfizer carrier that’s able to vaccinate 5-11 year olds, and you don’t need to be an established patient at PeaceHealth to make an appointment. To make an appointment at PeaceHealth this week, call 1-833-375-0285.