This post was originally published in October, 2021. As of June 2022, the CDC recommends all children ages six months and up get vaccinated against COVID-19. In a unanimous vote by both the FDA and CDC advisory panels, the vaccines were authorized to help protect very young children from the virus.
For more on the vaccines, visit the CDC’s website.
Over the past year, hundreds of millions of people 12 and older have been safely vaccinated against COVID-19. Now we’ve reached another long-awaited pandemic milestone: the approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds.
This is huge news for parents of young kids, especially as we navigate the return to in-person learning and activities. In recent months, the CDC has shown an uptick in the number of kids getting COVID-19.1
The vaccine offers many parents hope and peace of mind. It is safe and effective in this age group.2
If you have questions about the vaccine, our physicians (who are also moms of young kids) are here to help.
Are there any risks?
The main risk of vaccination is mild side effects.
Dr. Kristi Edwards, who was a pediatrician for 13 years before joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, plans to get her 9-year-old son vaccinated as soon as possible. She expects that he may experience soreness, tiredness, and other signs that the vaccine is working.
“There are risks with any vaccine, the most common of which are mild side effects as the vaccine does its job,” she said. “Any risk of severe side effects is greatly outweighed by the risk of having COVID.”
Possible side effects of the Pfizer vaccine are similar in children and adults. They include:3
- Pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where you got the shot
- Muscle pain
These side effects are normal and should go away within a few days.
According to the CDC, the known risks of COVID-19 illness and its complications, such as long-term health problems, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination.4
Dr. Anuradha Rao-Patel, whose 16-year-old son is already vaccinated and whose youngest she will vaccinate “without any hesitation,” said she’s confident in the vaccine’s safety profile.
“The FDA and the CDC take vaccine safety precautions very seriously,” she said. “They monitor the vaccines carefully for any signs of safety issues. I would encourage parents to talk with their child’s doctor to discuss individual risks and benefits.”
If your child has had an allergic reaction to any of the vaccine’s ingredients in the past, or if you have any other concerns, talk to your child’s doctor.