WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The CDC on Tuesday accepted the recommendation of their advisory panel to allow the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5.
The Pfizer vaccine, which was also approved in May for children as young as 12, is the first shot to be approved for children this young in the U.S.
Here are five things that parents and children should know about getting the vaccine:
1. Why should my child get the shot?
While kids are much less likely to become severely ill from COVID-19, doctors and health experts said unvaccinated children are still at risk.
It is estimated that nearly 6.2 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19. This has resulted in tens of thousands of hospitalizations and more than 500 deaths.
A study found kid-size doses of the Pfizer vaccine were 91 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19.
WPTV spoke last week with the medical director of Pediatric Critical Care for Palms West Hospital about the impending approval of the vaccine for young children.
Dr. Yong Sing da Silva emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated, saying he has not seen any adolescent patients who were vaccinated that needed to be hospitalized.
Some children who had COVID-19 are now showing long-haul symptoms. Additionally, unvaccinated children can continue to spread COVID-19 at a rate similar to that spread by adults.
If there are younger children not yet eligible for vaccination, experts say having everyone in the home who are eligible to receive a vaccine can offer them additional protection. Similar to adults, children with obesity, diabetes or other underlying medical conditions can be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
2. Where can my child get vaccinated?
Free vaccines will be available through pediatrician's offices, pharmacies, hospitals and other sites administering vaccines to children. Federal health officials projected in the first week that 15 million doses of the vaccine will be shipped across the U.S.
White House officials said Monday that doses were shipped from Pfizer's production facility after the Food and Drug Administration issued approval last week. However, with supply chain issues still squeezing the economy, the doses may still be on the way.
3. How does the shot work?
The dose is two shots and one-third the dose of the adult version. The vaccine is given with a smaller needle. Children will need two shots, 21 days apart.
4. Are there side effects?
Scientists have conducted clinical trials with about 3,000 children. The FDA and CDC have determined that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine met the safety standards for authorization in children as young as 5 years old.
The CDC says serious health events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.
Similar to the vaccine in adults, children may experience pain, redness and swelling on their arm where the shot was administered.
The CDC said these side effects may affect a child's ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects and severe allergic reactions are rare.
5. Will there be any other COVID-19 vaccines for children?
Clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Moderna vaccine in children ages 6 months to 18 years old and for the Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years old.
The FDA is researching whether Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine can cause a rare side effect that causes inflammation of the heart muscle called myocarditis.