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The long awaited COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than age 5 was approved, bringing relief to parents eager to add another layer of protection for their families.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved pediatric doses of both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID vaccines. The Moderna vaccine can be given to children from 6 months through age 5 and the Pfizer vaccine from 6 months to age 4.
As of May 2022, more than 13.2 million children ages 0-18 have been diagnosed with COVID since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Almost 5.7 million reported cases have been added in 2022.
Here, NorthShore Pediatrician Sharon Robinson, MD, answers questions about vaccinations for this age group.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes, these vaccines are safe for your children. An independent panel of experts appointed by the Federal Drug Administration scrutinized the data and found that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe, effective and provoked a strong immune response for this age group. The panel also found that side effects were similar to reactions babies and toddlers can get from routine childhood vaccinations, such as a slight fever.
Is the dosage different compared to other age groups?
Yes. Pfizer received approval for a three-dose vaccine that is one-tenth the dose given to teens and adults, and lower than the dose for children ages 5 to 11. The first two doses are given about two weeks apart. And the last dose about two months later.
Moderna is authorized for a two-dose vaccine that is about one quarter the adult dosage and is given about four weeks apart.
COVID is less common and less dangerous in children so do they really need this vaccine?
Some parents might want to take a wait-and-see approach but is it really worth the risk of waiting? Unvaccinated children who get COVID are at risk of becoming hospitalized and seriously ill–even if most cases are mild. Many children have faced severe side effects from this virus, including long COVID and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). Kids also risk infecting other more vulnerable individuals like older grandparents. Widespread vaccination is a key tool in stopping the pandemic.
My child has severe allergies. Is it safe for them to get it?
Any child with an allergy or risk of anaphylaxis to food, insect venom, oral medications, latex or environmental allergens is eligible to receive the vaccines. Your child should NOT get the COVID vaccine if there is:
If you have any questions or concerns about the COVID vaccine and allergic reactions consult with your doctor or allergist.