In anticipation of a COVID-19 vaccine becoming available for children ages 5-11 years, Dr. Angela Dangvu, a pediatrician in the CHOC Primary Care Network, answers some of parents’ common questions about when the vaccine will be available for younger kids and what to expect from it.
At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) company has submitted the data of their clinical trials and has requested emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A decision by FDA regulators is expected soon after their advisory committee meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 26. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who recommend how vaccines should be used, are scheduled to meet Nov. 2 and 3.
Since the data from their clinical trials have been positive, it is likely that Pfizer will receive the authorization to have their COVID-19 vaccine administered to children ages 5-11 years by the first week of November.
If the approval comes, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will be the only vaccine authorized for use in children ages 5 – 11 years. It is also the only vaccine authorized for kids ages 12-17 years. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Jansen (J&J Jansen) COVID-19 vaccines are currently only authorized for people ages 18 and older.
Pfizer-BioNTech is seeking emergency-use authorization to administer their COVID-19 vaccine to kids ages 5-11 years from the FDA. It is likely that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be approved in the first week of November.
No. The one-dose J&J Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for adults ages 18 years and older. J&J Janssen is currently conducting research on the vaccine’s response in younger age groups.
No. Moderna’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for adults ages 18 years and older. Moderna is currently conducting research on their vaccine’s response in kids as young as 6 months of age.
No. The Pfizer vaccine, which is currently authorized for children ages 12 years and older, as well as the Moderna vaccine, which is authorized for people ages 18 years and older, is an mRNA vaccine. When the vaccine is injected, mRNA enters a body’s cell and prompts the cell to build copies of spike proteins.
Because of this, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may cause some symptoms like a low-grade fever, body aches and tiredness. Like the flu vaccine, this is good because it shows that the immune system is initiating an appropriate immune response to the vaccine.
J&J Janssen’s vaccine is a viral vector, which uses a modified version of a different virus to deliver important instructions to cells. The viral vector is not the COVID-19 virus, but a different, harmless virus that will produce a spike protein that the body will create an immune response to. That immune response will protect the body if it comes in contact with COVID-19.
Definitely not. Because it is an mRNA vaccine (see explanation above), the vaccine does not get incorporated into or change the DNA of the body’s cells in any way. There is no reason to worry that the vaccine will affect fertility or future offspring. Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility.
Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, appears to be a very rare side effect of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Get more information about myocarditis.
Pfizer states that its COVID-19 vaccine was well-tolerated by its clinical trial participants. The side effects are generally comparable to those observed in the 16-25 age group. The most commonly reported side effects include:
Any side effects should be relatively short-lived and ease within 24 hours. Because teens and children have more robust immune systems, it’s possible that they may feel these side effects more strongly than adults would. This is a sign that their immune system is mounting a response against the virus.
The Pfizer company is conducting a separate clinical trial for children younger than 5 years of age, receiving a 3-microgram dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. They are expecting to have the results as soon as the end of this year.
If their results are favorable, they will submit their data to the FDA for approval to administer the vaccine.
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) is a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19 in which different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. MIS can affect children (MIS-C) and adults (MIS-A). Learn more about multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and COVID-19.
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), is a considerably rare condition that some children and teens have developed following a COVID-19 infection. There is research being done to determine why some children develop MIS-C and others do not.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine for teens, kids ages 12-15 years