COVID-19 Vaccines Approved for Children 6 Months to 5 Years: What We Know

Last updated: June 22, 2022

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What we know about the COVID-19 vaccines coming out for children 6 months to 5 years of age. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Name 

Pfizer-BioNTech 

Moderna 

Eligible Age

6 months to 4 years old

6 months to 5 years old

Dose 

3 micrograms/0.2mL

25 micrograms/0.25mL

Number of doses

3

2

Schedule

At least 3 weeks (21 days) between dose 1 and 2

AND

At least 8 weeks (56 days) between dose 2 and 3

Second dose at least 4 weeks (28 days) after the first dose

Common Side Effects 

Mostly mild to moderate and lasting no longer than a week

Lower than in older children

2 – 4 years of age

  • Pain at injection site

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle aches/pains

  • Joint stiffness

  • Nausea/Vomiting

  • Chills

  • Diarrhea

6 months to <2 years of age

  • Tenderness at injection site

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Fever

  • Decreased appetite

  • Drowsiness

  • Irritability

Mostly mild to moderate and lasting no longer than a week

Lower than in older children

2 – 5 years of age

  • Pain at injection site

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle aches/pains

  • Joint stiffness

  • Nausea/Vomiting

  • Chills

6 months to <2 years of age

  • Pain at injection site

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Fever

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sleepiness

  • Irritability

  • Crying

Effectiveness 

  • Tested in over 4,500 children

  • Three-dose vaccine efficacy against symptomatic disease was 80.4% during a time when Omicron was circulating widely in the U.S.

  • Tested in over 6,600 children

  • Ages 2 to 5 – about 37% effective at preventing symptomatic disease when Omicron was prevalent

  • Ages 6 months to 2 years – about 51% against symptomatic disease

Safety

Both vaccines were relatively safe and did not generate more adverse effects among children than among adults. Benefits outweigh the risks.

Sources: Pfizer-BioNTechModerna


Where can my child go to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? 

The Anne Arundel County Department of Health will be offering the 6-month to 5-year-old COVID-19 vaccines at community vaccine locations by appointment only. If you would like to schedule an appointment, visit www.aacounty.org/covidvax.

Many pediatricians in the county are also offering the 6-month to 5-year-old COVID-19 vaccine. Please reach out to your child’s pediatrician to see if they have the 6-month to 5-year-old COVID-19 vaccine.

My child is immunocompromised, are they able to get an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

If your child received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as their primary series, there is no recommendation for an additional primary series dose if he or she is immunocompromised.

If your child received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as their primary series, he or she is eligible to receive a third primary dose given at least 4 weeks after their second dose.

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. After reviewing available data on the known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications, the CDC determined that the benefits outweigh the risk of myocarditis or pericarditis after receipt of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for children.

People ages 6 months through 64 years, and especially males ages 12 through 39 years, may consider getting the second primary dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) 8 weeks after the first dose. A longer time between the first and second primary doses may increase how much protection the vaccines offer, and further minimize the rare risk of heart problems, including myocarditis and pericarditis.

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

  • Anticipate that you will spend 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 during the vaccine visit. Pack your child’s favorite toy, book or blanket to comfort him or her during vaccinations.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse about any allergies your child may have.
  • After your child’s vaccination, you will be asked to stay for 15–30 minutes so your child can 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.
  • You should receive an electronic version of a fact sheet about the specific COVID-19 vaccine received. Each approved and authorized COVID-19 vaccine has its own fact sheet that contains information to help understand the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine. Learn more about different COVID-19 vaccines.

When is a child considered fully vaccinated?

Children are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the primary series. The CDC recommends that people remain up to date with their vaccines, which includes additional doses for individuals who are immunocompromised or booster doses at regular time points when authorized. Ensure your child is optimally protected against COVID-19 by getting them vaccinated and keeping them up to date.

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