The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been specifically developed for children ages 5 through 11. It’s a version of the same mRNA vaccine that adults take. The children's vaccine is given 3 weeks apart in a series of two shots of 10 micrograms each. Also, smaller needles are being used to deliver this vaccine to children. As of this moment (December 2021), no booster shots for children have been authorized.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children works the same way as the ones for adults does. They first provide the immune system with commands on identifying spike proteins found on COVID-19. This is done so that the body can fight it immediately. After the immune cells use the commands, they quickly break down the mRNA and remove it from the body.
Scientists who have developed these vaccines say that this process has been researched for decades and there’s sufficient evidence to believe that that mRNA vaccines are safe and effective.
So, how does the pediatric Covid-19 vaccine differ from the adult vaccine?
The newly authorized pediatric vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 contains the same formulation as the adult vaccine. However, it still differs from the adult vaccine in a few ways:
- The first difference between the two vaccines is the dose. The pediatric dose is 10 micrograms as compared to 30 micrograms for the vaccine used for older children and adults.
- The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine also has different shelf stability than the one used for older children and adults. The original Pfizer vaccine required cold temperatures, which made it difficult to store and distribute. This vaccine for children has been modified a bit to help keep it stable in refrigerated temperatures for longer.
- Pediatric vaccines have a different color label to help avoid any confusion. Also, children will receive the shot in their upper thigh, as opposed to most adults who receive the shot in their upper arm.
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What’s the efficacy of the pediatric vaccine?
According to the FDA data, the pediatric vaccine was found to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11. They reviewed a vaccine study of more than 4,600 children in this age range where 3,100 participants were given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine while the others were given an inactive (placebo) shot.
None of the children in this study had been previously diagnosed with COVID-19.
Scientists also say that if a child does end up getting diagnosed with COVID-19 after vaccination, they are likely to have milder symptoms.
What are the side effects?
Children who were given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines in the study were observed for side effects for at least 2 months after the second dose. The studies reported no serious side effects. Most of the children reported similar side effects that adults have experienced with COVID-19 vaccines. The most commonly stated side effects include:
* Muscle aches
* Pain where the shot was given
* Joint pain
* Decreased appetite
Where can you get your child vaccinated?
Check your local health department website or speak to your pediatrician to find a location giving COVID-19 vaccine shots to children. Some places may be offering shots on a walk-in basis while others may require appointments. You can visit the vaccines.gov website for more details.
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When will vaccines be approved for children younger than 5?
Vaccines for very young children, ages 6 months to 4 years, haven’t been approved yet. But we should expect some news on this in the first half of 2022 as clinical trials are currently underway for the same.
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