Child Development

COVID Vaccines for Kids: What Every Parent Needs to Know

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Latest Update on the Children’s COVID Vaccine

Towards the end of September, Pfizer (one of the major COVID vaccine manufacturers) announced new safety data from COVID vaccine trials they had run on children under the age of 12. The safety data results were highly promising, not revealed any major concerns that would delay the release of a COVID vaccine for children under 12. Initially, Pfizer had begun these trials back in March 2021with a goal to submit the children’s COVID vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use in children ages 5 to 11 by the end of October2021, followed by a released of the vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5years. As of today, it looks like Pfizer may still be on track to hit this deadline!

While parents are either nervous or excited about the release of the children’s vaccine soon, there are a few things that every parent should know first:

1) The children’s COVID vaccine will be as effective as the adult COVID vaccine

While the full report on effectiveness of the COVID vaccine for children under the age of 12 hasn’t been released to the public yet, Pfizer did release a document stating that “the antibody response reported in the 2,268participants who were 5 to 11 years of age was extremely comparable to that reported in adults. Once the vaccine is approved for administration by the FDA, the full report on the efficacy of the vaccine will be available.”

While the vaccine itself is the same formula for both children and adults, there is one major difference in the vaccine being used for children under 12 compared to the one already available to adolescents and adults. The children’s COVID vaccine doses will actually be about 1/3rd(two 10 µg doses) of a normal dose versus the two 30 µg doses for adolescents and adults. Since the formulation will be used but just at a lower dose, the same multi-dose vials already in use for the adult vaccine would remain available for the children’s doses as well. And similarly to adolescents and adults, children will be required to take two does for immunity; however, the time between the doses is yet to be publicly announced.

2) Children between the ages of 12 and 15 can already get the COVID vaccine

The FDA approved the Pfizer COVID vaccine for young teens ages 12 to 15 a few months ago after reviewing a positive research study showing the effects of the vaccine in this age range. Similar to adults, young teens who have received 1 or 2 doses may have side effects that typically last 1 to 3days; however, the vaccine was confirmed as 100% effective at preventing COVID in this age group. 

3) Children between the ages of 5 and 12 may become eligible by Halloween

As Pfizer has submitted its trial data to the FDA to review and conduct its own research. It is only a matter of time before an announcement is made regarding a vaccine for children. If all goes according to plan and no inconsistencies are found in the data review by the FDA, Pfizer should expect to achieve its goal of receiving Emergency Use authorization for the children’s COVID vaccine by October 31st, 2021. 

4) The official safety data on side effects for children below 12 has not been released yet

Similar with the Pfizer effectiveness trial full results, the safety data regarding side effects hasn’t been released to the public yet, meaning pediatricians are unable to advise parents yet on the potential safety concerns of vaccinating children younger than 12. However, James Versalovic, MD, PhD interim pediatrician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital, stated that “what we know so far is the vaccine has appeared safe for children in Phases 1,2 and 3 of the pediatric trials. These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.” It is definitely possible that some children may have no side effects at all. What we do know is that it is not recommended to give your child pain relievers BEFORE a vaccination appointment for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects. It may be okay to give your child this type of medication AFTER the vaccine appointment, but always consult with a pediatrician before doing so.

Closing thoughts

In the next few weeks, we will learn more about the status of the COVID vaccine for children as the FDA continues its research into the clinical trials conducted by Pfizer on children between the ages of 5 and 11. Hopefully, more information will be released soon regarding the release date as well as the full safety report on the side effects of the vaccine on children.