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COVID-19 Vaccinations for Ages 5-11 FAQ

Last updated: November 17, 2021

Pfizer Vaccine for Age 5-11 - Vaccine with Yellow Tops

Facts to Know and Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I vaccinate my child against COVID-19?

COVID-19 tends to be milder in children compared to adults, but can make children very sick and cause children to be hospitalized. In some situations, complications from infection can lead to death.

Although children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, children can:

  • Be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Get very sick from COVID-19.
  • Have both short and long-term health complications from COVID-19.
  • Spread COVID-19 to others.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is important because it

  • protects siblings not eligible for the vaccine and family members at increased risk.
  • helps keep children from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19.
  • keeps children in school and able to participate in sports, playdates and group activities.
  • brings us one-step closer to curbing community transmission and ending this unprecedented pandemic!
Where can my child go to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

The Anne Arundel County Department of Health offers the 5-11 year old COVID-19 vaccines at designated community vaccine clinics. Appointments are recommended. Walk-ins are accepted, as vaccine supplies allow. If your child is eligible, schedule an appointment at www.aacounty.org/covidvax

Clinics at local elementary schools are also provided. For details, visiwww.aacps.org/covidvaccines.

Many pediatricians and pharmacies offer the 5-11 COVID-19 vaccine. Reach out to your child’s doctor, or check your local pharmacy’s website for vaccination walk-ins or appointments. 

What should I expect when I bring my child to their appointment?

  • Anticipate spending at least 30 minutes at the vaccine clinic site.
  • It is not recommended to give pain relievers before vaccination to prevent side effects.
  • Be ready to support your child. Pack your child’s favorite toy, book or blanket for comfort.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse about any allergies your child may have.
  • Prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting. Keep your child seated or lying down during and for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.
  • After vaccination, you will be asked to stay for 15-30 minutes to be observed in case of severe allergic reaction and immediate treatment.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others while inside and in lines.
  • COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets are provided. Each approved and authorized vaccine has a fact sheet to understand the risks and benefits of that specific vaccine. Learn more about different COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Ask about v-safe, a free, smartphone tool that uses text messaging and web surveys for personalized health check-ins after vaccination. Parents/guardians can enroll adolescents (ages 12 and older) or dependents and complete check-ins on their behalf.
How is the 5-11 Pfizer vaccine different from the ages 12+ vaccine?

Because young children are still growing and developing, researchers assessed the need for different doses already used for adolescents and adults. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for ages 5-11 is a lower dose (10 micrograms) than that used for ages 12 and older (30 micrograms). The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for children ages 5-11 is a two-dose primary series, three weeks apart (21 days). Smaller needles, designed specifically for children, are used. The vaccine for 5-11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults and adolescents; however, it has an orange vial cap.

How do we know the vaccines are safe?

COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring is the most intense and comprehensive in U.S. history. Hundreds of millions of U.S. people have received COVID-19 vaccines. Through several monitoring systems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration provide updated information on vaccine safety. Clinical trials determine the safety of the vaccine in this population. All clinical trials follow scientific and ethical standards that go through three phases:

  • Phase 1 studies dosage, efficacy and possible side effects.
  • Phase 2 focuses on common short-term side effects and how dosage size relates to immune response.
  • Phase 3 compares the vaccine with a placebo for safety and effectiveness, identifying
    any common side effects.

Results are carefully evaluated, including physical, chemical and biological properties and how vaccines are manufactured. Vaccine safety was studied in more than 3,000 children ages 5-11 who received the vaccine and no serious side effects were detected in the study.

How will vaccine safety be monitored in this age group?

The CDC and FDA will continue to monitor safety using established and new safety monitoring systems. Parents/guardians can enroll their child in the v-safe program, a free and easy-to-use smartphone tool, where they can complete health check-ins after COVID-19 vaccination and report how their child is feeling after vaccination. Additionally, patients, parents and guardians are also asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), even if it is not clear that the vaccine caused the adverse event. CDC reviews all of the information and reports any serious adverse reactions.

How do we know the vaccines are effective?

Immune responses of children ages 5-11 were comparable to those of individuals ages 16-25. In that study, the vaccine was 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5-11.

What are the side effects from the vaccine?

Side effects following vaccination are less frequent in children aged 5-11 compared with young adults aged 16-25. Commonly reported side effects the clinical trial included injection site pain (sore arm), redness and swelling, fatigue, headache, muscle and/or joint pain, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and decreased appetite. More children reported side effects after the second dose than the first dose. Side effects were generally mild to moderate in severity and occurred within two days after vaccination, and most went away within one to two days. These are normal signs that their body is building protection.

What is myocarditis and pericarditis and should I be worried about my child developing this after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the lining outside the heart. In both cases, the body’s immune system is causing inflammation in response to an infection or other trigger. Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath or palpitations.

Data demonstrate the highest increased risks of myocarditis and pericarditis, particularly seven days following the second dose, in males ages 12-17. Some cases required intensive care support. Most symptoms resolved with conservative management. No cases of myocarditis were reported among the 3,082 participants aged 5-11 in Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine trial with at least seven days of follow up after receipt of dose two. After reviewing data on the risks and benefits, the CDC determined the benefits (e.g., prevention of COVID-19 cases) outweigh the risk of myocarditis or pericarditis after receipt of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for children.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 5 and older, including those trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners. Professional medical organizations serving people of reproductive age, including adolescents, emphasize that there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes fertility loss. These organizations also recommend COVID-19 vaccination for people who may consider getting pregnant in the future.

Professional societies for male reproduction recommend that men who want to have babies in the future be offered COVID-19 vaccination. There is no evidence that vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems.

Do I have to pay to vaccinate my child for COVID-19?

No. COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone who is eligible, including children, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

How is the 5-11 Pfizer vaccine different from the 12+ vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5-11 is administered as a two-dose primary series, three weeks apart (21 days), but is a lower dose (10 micrograms) than used for ages 12 and older (30 micrograms). COVID-19 vaccine trials with children looked at different doses to find the safest dose that gave the best immune response. The dose is a third of the amount that is given in adults.

Will all children 5-11 be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine right away?

Yes. The vaccine will be available to all children in this age range, regardless of pre-existing medical history, the same way it was for ages 12-15. The U.S. learned a lot from the initial vaccine rollout for adults and now the country has more vaccine volume. There are 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11, and there are definitely 28 million doses of vaccine available.

If my children had COVID-19 already, do they need the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, the vaccine will help protect children from getting COVID-19 again. In addition, being fully vaccinated will help prevent serious illness or hospitalization if they are infected again with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. If your child is currently positive for COVID-19, they should wait to get vaccinated until after their isolation is completed and they have recovered.

When is a child considered fully vaccinated?

Children are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine. After their first vaccine, schedule the second dose. Once fully vaccinated, they can get back to activities they enjoy like sports, choir, plays and parties with some added confidence that they are protected!

How long will my child be protected from COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine?

Data is not yet available to inform about the duration of protection that the vaccine will provide.

Should I keep a record of my child’s COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes, keep the paper vaccination card you will receive. Don’t laminate the vaccination card, in case more information needs to be added. Make sure that your pediatrician’s office has a copy of the COVID-19 vaccination card in your child’s medical record. Your child’s school or college health office also may need a copy. Take a photo of it or copy it and keep everything in a safe place. To avoid identity theft risk, don’t share a photo of the card on social media.

Maryland immunizations records can also be accessed at https://md.myir.net.

My child is about to turn 12. Which COVID-19 vaccine should they get?

Your child should get the vaccine product that is recommended for their age at the time of vaccination.

My children are afraid of needles. Is there anything I can do to calm them ahead of getting their COVID-19 vaccine?

Talk to your child before vaccination about what to expect. Make it routine. Make it normal. Practice at home with pretend shots and say, “It hurt a little bit and now it’s all better. Let’s put a Band-Aid on it.” Because of COVID-19 safety precautions, nurses will be wearing masks and maybe a face shield, so prepare your child for that appearance.

Why is age used for a vaccine dose, but weight is used for antibiotics?

Vaccines don’t work the same way that medicines such as antibiotics do. Antibiotics help the body get rid of germs when sick. Bodies need the right amount of medicine to make it to all parts of the body and find the problem. Doses of antibiotics are measured by weight so that the medicine can get to all the places of infection at levels needed by different size bodies.

On the other hand, a vaccine helps the body know how to stop germs before they make you sick. A very small dose is all your cells need to learn how to stop germs. With information provided by the vaccine, the immune cells then launch a response to get rid of the virus.

Can I get my COVID-19 vaccine and my flu shot at the same time?

Yes! Currently the CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that if a person is eligible, both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, without regard to timing. If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, speak with a health care provider.

General Prevention Recommendations for COVID-19

The CDC recommends the following to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Regardless of vaccination status, everyone should wear a mask indoors in public to maximize protection. Recommendations are based on the county case rate which determines the Level of Community Transmission as defined by the CDC. Face masks are required in some health care facilities and on public transportation. Masks are the best way to slow the spread when around others outside your household. The two biggest risks are social gatherings and public dining, which bring people together who are not usually together. Keep your bubble of contacts as small as possible and do not let your guard down.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times.
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Practice proper respiratory etiquette, including coughing and sneezing into the back of your elbow or into a tissue. Immediately throw away the tissue and wash your hands.

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