Widespread vaccination for COVID-19 is a critical tool to best protect everyone, especially those at highest risk, from severe illness and death. People who are fully vaccinated can safely resume many activities that they did prior to the pandemic. Children ages 5 years and older are able to get an age-appropriate dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
About 900,000 children ages 5-11 received their first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at the end of Nov. 10, that means about 3 percent of children in that age group will have received a dose by the end of that day. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Oct. 28 found that 27 percent of parents of children ages 5-11 planned to get their child vaccinated as soon as it was authorized.
What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccine in children?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the COVID-19 vaccines that are approved for use in children and teens are safe. There are some mild or moderate short-term side effects that your child may experience. These are very similar to the ones that adults experience from the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the clinical trials, some children and adolescents had no side effects and, like adults, more children and adolescents had short-term side effects after the second dose of the vaccine compared to after their first dose. It is important to note that children 5-11 years old had short-term side effects less often than older adolescents and adults.
Short-term side effects that your child may feel:
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Pain at the injection site (sore arm)
These symptoms usually go away in a day or so on their own. But you can ask your pediatrician about ways to help your child feel better.
What about serious side effects?
It is rare, but some people have had a severe allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s why your child will need to wait for 15 to 30 minutes after they have a vaccination. There are medicines to quickly treat allergic reactions.
If you think your child might be having a severe allergic reaction after you leave the appointment, seek immediate medical care by calling 911.
When the vaccine was being studied, a small number of children had lymph node swelling. Local skin reactions also occurred.
The other very, very rare side effect is myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle. Since April 2021, there have been more than a thousand reports of cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart) happening after some COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Seek medical attention right away if, within a few days of receiving the second injection of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna), you or your child experiences chest pain, shortness of breath, or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heartbeat.
Considering the hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses that have been administered, these reports are very rare. The problem occurs more often in adolescents (teens) and young adults, and in males. The myocarditis or pericarditis in almost all cases is mild and resolves quickly.
As for long-term side effects from the vaccine, the CDC says this is unlikely. We have years of research and monitoring on other vaccinations that show side effects almost always happen within six weeks of getting a vaccine.
Would getting the COVID-19 vaccination protect me if my child gets COVID-19?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer each provide about a 95% chance of protecting you from developing severe symptoms from COVID-19 after completion of the two-dose series. The vaccines are very effective in preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19.