With the new, FDA-approved vaccine for 5-11-year-olds, parents + guardians have new-found concerns and questions. We have gathered the top 5 questions + answers below so that parents + guardians can make the best-informed decision possible for their families.
Q: Where can children get the vaccine?
A: Community vaccination centers, family health care providers, pediatrician’s offices, school-based clinics, and retail pharmacies all offer the free COVID-19 vaccine. Visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call (877) VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) to find a site near you.
Q: When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Starting now! The FDA has authorized, and the CDC has recommended, the vaccine for use in 5- to 11-year-olds. However, vaccine availability may vary by site, which could affect how soon children can get their first shot. Parents, caregivers, and family members of children 5 to 11 are encouraged to schedule appointments with their children’s health care provider or any pharmacy or vaccination clinic offering the Pfizer-BioNTech (age 5–11) vaccine to ensure availability.
Q: Why should children get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The risk of children getting severely ill from COVID-19 is lower than in adults, but it is not zero.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children now account for as many as 1 in 4 COVID-19 infections. Children with COVID-19 are at risk of getting sick, becoming hospitalized, or in some cases, dying. Children may also develop long-term illness such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) or “long COVID.”
Getting children fully vaccinated helps protect them from becoming seriously ill or developing long-term complications. Vaccination can also help reduce infection in families, schools, and our communities.
Q: Is the kids’ vaccine different from the vaccine for ages 12 and up?
A: The kids’ vaccine is specifically formulated for children and given at a lower dose than the vaccine meant for those over 12. The dose for 5- to 11-year-olds is just one-third the adult-size dose. It is important that children 5 to 11 receive the COVID-19 vaccine product indicated for their age group.
Q: What side effects are common in children after vaccination?
A: Common side effects in children 5 to 11 after getting the shot are similar to those seen in adolescents and young adults.
On their arm where they get the shot, kids may experience:
Pain or tenderness
They might also experience:
Body aches or muscle pain
Nausea or diarrhea
Side effects mean that the shot is working. It’s making the body’s immune system create antibodies to fight the virus if future exposure occurs. Side effects are typically mild and go away within a few days.
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