CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky approved Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for children 5 to 11 years of age after a daylong meeting yesterday. The CDC is recommending that all children ages 5 and up receive the vaccine. While Covid tends to be milder in kids, children have had severe illness and serious complications, including MIS-C (multi inflammatory syndrome) and death due to Covid.
Additionally, vaccinating children helps protect those who are unable to get the vaccine and will help keep schools open. Much like the flu vaccine, one can still get Covid even if vaccinated but after vaccination the illness is likely to be more mild and shorter in duration.
The dose for the children’s Pfizer vaccine will be half of the adult dose and carries the same side-effect profile as the adult vaccine: pain and soreness at the injection site as well as fever, headache, nausea and muscle aches. As with Pfizer’s adult vaccine, children will get a second vaccine three weeks after the first vaccine and will be fully immune 14 days after their second shot.
Myocarditis has been noted as a rare side effect, with a documented occurrence of 54 cases per 1,000,000 vaccines in males age 12-17. The likelihood of having myocarditis related to Covid is thought to be much higher.
CDC is tracking symptoms after vaccine administration using a text-driven reporting system called VSafe. If vaccine recipients sign up, they will be contacted by CDC with a brief questionnaire about their symptoms, which will help officials collect data.
Vaccines will be available at pediatrician offices as well as pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens. Massachusetts Vax Finder can help you find a vaccine location, however, at the time of this writing it has not been updated to reflect the approval of the children’s vaccine.