CDC Recommends COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 5 to 11 Years
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 has been authorized for children between the ages of 5 and 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Nov. 2.
Children will receive two “kid-sized” doses that contain the same ingredients as those given to adults and adolescents, but are about one-third of the size, according to the CDC. The two shots should be given three weeks apart and are administered with smaller needles appropriate for children.
Dr. Lakshmi Deepa Yerram, MD | Chief Medical Officer of International Community Health Services
I have a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old and I am looking for appointments for the 5-year-old to get the vaccine. The 4-year-old is definitely going to get it as soon as she turns 5.
It’s important for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19 not just for their health, but for the health of those around them, said Dr. Lakshmi Deepa Yerram, chief medical officer at International Community Health Services (ICHS). Children are less likely to get severe cases of COVID-19, but they can still spread it to vulnerable members of the community.
Yerram is taking her own advice.
“I have a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old and I am looking for appointments for the 5-year-old to get the vaccine,” Yerram said. “The 4-year-old is definitely going to get it as soon as she turns 5.”
Young children have become a larger percentage of the number of COVID-19 cases as adults and adolescents get vaccinated and the Delta variant — which is twice as contagious as the original virus — continues to spread through the country.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, children aged 5 to 11 make up nearly 40% of all cases in adolescents 18 and younger. More than 650 children under the age of 18 have died of COVID-19, the CDC reports.
Before the rise of the Delta variant, the need to vaccinate younger children was less urgent, Yerram said. But as kids go back to school in person, there is more interaction and chance for community spread. Seattle Public Schools reported 531 cases among students as of Oct. 29, although it is unclear how old each of those children are.
Getting more people vaccinated means more protection for the community at large, Yerram said.
“Once the kids are vaccinated, their risk of contracting this virus goes down drastically and hopefully that moves toward normalcy for these kids,” Yerram said.
Children can feel side effects from the vaccine including pain, redness and swelling around the vaccination site and tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, nausea and fever through the rest of their body.
Other, more serious side effects such as myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle or heart lining, have occurred in children between 12 and 17, the previous group approved for the vaccine. Those side effects are very rare and are monitored by the CDC.
The CDC has stated: “The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.”
Beginning Nov. 8, Pediatric COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11 will be available by walk-in at ICHS clinic pharmacies in the International District, Holly Park, and Shoreline (supplies are currently limited). Beginning November 29, the pharmacy will do walk-in Pfizer vaccinations for non-ICHS patients who are 5-11 years old on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at the International District and Holly Park clinic pharmacies. And Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Shoreline clinic pharmacy. ICHS patients should call (206) 788-3700 to make an appointment. For more information on getting vaccinated, click here.