COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5 to 11 FAQ

Dartmouth Health is happy to provide COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. Learn more about pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinic dates, times, and locations.

Susanne Tanski, MD, Dartmouth Health Children's Pediatrician and Section Chief of General Pediatrics, answers questions about the COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11.

For answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, please see below.

Which COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for children ages 5 to 11?

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are authorized for children ages 5 to 11.

How did the FDA determine the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in children ages 5 to 11?

After reviewing data and results from Pfizer from just over 3000 kids, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

Then, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed the findings and recommendation from the FDA and agreed that the use of the vaccines in children ages 5 to 11 is safe and effective.

The vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds will be under an emergency use authorization (EUA), which is granted to products during public health emergencies. Adolescents ages 12 to 15 are also eligible for the Pfizer vaccine under EUA. Ages 16 years and up are eligible for a fully licensed Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized under EUA for 18 and older.

Is there any difference in the dosing of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11?

Yes, the Pfizer pediatric vaccine has a lower dosage for young children than it does for those 12 years and older: 10 micrograms for kids ages 5 to 11, compared to 30 micrograms for those 12 and older. Children ages 5 to 11 will still need to get the 2-shot series given at least 21 days apart. They carefully explored a lower dose of vaccine to look for an immune response while trying to prevent side effects from the vaccination.

How effective is the vaccine?

The vaccine was very effective in clinical trials. In the group receiving the active vaccine, there were no serious cases of COVID-19 and no hospitalizations. The vaccine was 91% effective at preventing any symptomatic COVID-19 cases. More data will be available as more children are vaccinated. 

Is there any research on the short and long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

According to the FDA, young children will have similar side effects from COVID-19 vaccines as teens and adults: fatigue, headache, chills, and fever were the most often reported other than injection site discomfort. More kids had side effects with the second dose. These were most often mild and lasted just 1 to 2 days. During the clinical trials, kids had fewer and milder cases of fever and chills after their shot than adults.

As for long-term side effects, in the history of vaccine development and administration we have not seen delayed side effects from vaccines beyond about 2 months, and most are within 2 weeks. We now have more than 12 months of experience with the Pfizer vaccine from clinical trials and the massive vaccination program that has been underway in adults, and we are not seeing long-term effects. Vaccine ingredients are broken down in our bodies very quickly, leaving the good effect of an immune system that is prepared to fight the germ that was vaccinated against.

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

Currently, the only COVID-19 vaccine that is approved for children 5 and older is the Pfizer vaccine. If your child is not yet 12, they should receive the Pfizer vaccine specially formulated for children ages 5 to 11, which is a lower dose than the vaccine for children ages 12 and older.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine affect a child's development or fertility?

There is no evidence that this vaccine will affect development or fertility. The CDC is following tens of thousands of women who have taken the vaccine, including many who have become pregnant since having the vaccine. No issues have been found.

If children are less likely to experience severe illness from COVID-19, why do they need a COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 infection in children has been usually less severe than adults, and far fewer children have died from COVID-19. To date, around 600 children have died from COVID-19, making this one of the top ten causes of death in this age group.

There is also more to prevent from COVID than death: Some children have had a post-COVID complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or "MIS-C", and some kids have had persistent fatigue and other symptoms known as "Long COVID".

Even among kids who have had mild disease, they have missed school for 10 to 14 days, and they can still transmit COVID-19 to their friends and family, some of whom may themselves be as at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, like the elderly or people with a weakened immune system.

The COVID-19 vaccine can help decrease the likelihood of these scenarios above and help control the pandemic.

How long after getting the COVID-19 vaccine can a child get other vaccines?

According to the CDC, it is safe for all age groups to get the COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines on the same day. If getting multiple vaccines in the same visit, the vaccines must be given at different injection sites according to age group recommendations. The COVID-19 vaccine side effects are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines.

Will my child require a booster shot?

In May, the FDA authorized the use of a single booster dose of the COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. This age group can get a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.