Questions about the COVID vaccine for kids? Swedish has some answers for you.

November 19, 2021 Swedish Health Team

 

In this article: 

  • COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  • Pediatric doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been approved for use under the Emergency Use Authorization. 
  • Vaccinating our kids under 12 will prevent some 600,000 cases of COVID-19 in the coming months. 
  • Learn where and when you can get your child vaccinated.  

Much to the relief of millions of parents and guardians around the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week released its guidance for COVID-19 vaccinations for kids ages five to 11.

This is a major step in getting us back to our families, our lives and the simple joys in life like hugging grandma and grandpa and our favorite aunts and uncles. The rising immunity that comes with increased vaccinations among kids is helpful in many ways, including reducing the virus’ spread to vulnerable family and community members. Vaccinating our young kids will also help keep from becoming catastrophic any winter surge from becoming catastrophic, with an uptick in cases expected to accompany increased indoor gatherings and holiday celebrations and a busy travel season.

With 29 million children in this newly vaccine-eligible age group, the CDC’s go-ahead for kids’ vaccinations is a major landmark in protecting ourselves as we move back into normal life and to the people and things we love. Experts say vaccinating our kids under 12 will help prevent about 600,000 new COVID-19 cases in the coming months. Kids’ vaccines will also be a boon to public health by re-invigorating routine immunization programs, which have stalled with COVID-restrictions. Our young children also benefit emotionally, with vaccines keeping them in school, with friends and able to participate in sports and other social activities.   

We understand that additional questions come with all this new information. To help you make the most educated decision possible for your family, we asked Swedish pediatrician John Hawes, M.D., to answer some important questions about the CDC’s new guidance for kids and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Should my child get vaccinated?

Yes. Public health experts, including leading doctors’ groups, agree that kids should get vaccinated to protect their families and themselves. Nearly two million children ages 5 to 11 in the U.S., are known to have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. And even though adults are at risk for more severe infections, over 8,000 kids have been hospitalized with COVID-19, with a third of those children requiring treatment in intensive care. 173 kids in the age group have died from COVID-19.

Will my child receive the same dose as an adult?

Kids ages 5 to 11 will receive a smaller dose; kids aged 12 and older get the same dose as adults. Additionally, the CDC says children should get the dose that’s right for their age on the day of vaccination; so, if your child is 11 on the day of their vaccination, they would receive a child’s dose.

My child will be 12 soon, should I wait to get them vaccinated?

No. Pediatricians say that the kid-sized dose is effective for the age group.  

Which vaccine should my child receive?

Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has Emergency Use Authorization for kids.

What are some potential side effects my child may experience?

Some kids may experience sore arms and fatigue, just like the potential side effect for adults. Young kids are less likely to have fevers, which is a good thing. There has been a rare reaction of heart inflammation—again, this is very rare—which has occurred mostly in young men and teen boys and usually after the second vaccine dose. The good news is that they tend to recover very quickly. It’s also important to keep in mind that doctors say a COVID-19 infection can cause a host of short and long-term health complications in kids, including a more serious heart inflammation and multi-inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and gastrointestinal organs.  

Will I have to pay for the vaccine?

No. Just like the adult COVID-19 vaccine, the kids’ vaccine is free of charge.

Where can I get my child vaccinated?

Your child’s health and safety are of utmost importance to us, and we are eager to receive the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. At this time, Swedish has limited pediatric vaccine availability. We are working with the Washington State Department of Health to order pediatric vaccines and we encourage you to check back soon for more info.

If you are unable to schedule an appointment with us, we encourage you to visit our partnership with the City of Seattle at Amazon at www.seattle.gov/vaccine. Or you can find vaccination appointments at Washington Department of Health’s Vaccine Locator, visit your local pharmacy or check with your child’s local school district.

Swedish and other partners are working with the City of Seattle to offer free and accessible COVID-19 vaccinations in downtown Seattle at Amazon. Beginning on Sat., Nov. 6, this mass vaccination clinic will begin to offer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

Visit www.seattle.gov/vaccine for more information on locations, hours of operation, and eligibility and help spread the word to your friends and family. Continue to visit the Swedish blog to learn more and stay updated.

As with any medical decision it’s vital that you speak with your doctor to make the best decision for your child and your family.

Find a doctor

Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult with a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish ExpressCare Virtual connects you face-to-face with a practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a physician, caregiver or advanced care practitioner, you can use our provider directory.

Additional resources

Answers to your questions about kids' vaccines|The New York Times

Keep kids healthy, safe with recommended vaccines

Keeping kids safe at school during COVID-19

People ages 12+ now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

Tips for easing your child's anxiety while getting a COVID shot|The Seattle Times

Promoting resilience in young children: five tips for parents

CDC Covid Data Tracker

 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

 

 

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