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FAQ: Kids and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Is this the same Pfizer mRNA vaccine that adults (age 16 and older) have been receiving?

Yes, this is the same Pfizer vaccine, and everything about the dosing is the same: two shots of the Pfizer vaccine for full vaccination, scheduled about 21 days apart.

How do we know that this vaccine works in kids?

In the clinical trial, there were no cases of COVID-19 found in the 1,100 children who received the Pfizer vaccine, while 16 cases were found in the placebo group (the children in the trial who did not receive the vaccine). The trial also found that vaccinated children had high levels of antibodies in their blood, which is a sign that they had developed strong protective immunity. In their decision to authorize the vaccine for children ages 12-15, the FDA said of the trial, “The vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19.”

Do kids in this age group experience the same side effects as adults? 

The children in the vaccine trial did have similar side effects, with the second dose in particular, as adults. This included pain at the injection site, mild headache, fatigue, and chills. These side effects are short-lived and are a sign of immune response.

Why should kids this age get vaccinated?

Children can get sick from infection with coronavirus, and they can infect others. While cases in children tend to be less severe, some children have developed serious complications. 

In the United States alone, tens of thousands of children have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and more than 3,000 have developed a dangerous inflammatory syndrome called “MIS-C.” During the pandemic, COVID-19 has been one of the leading causes of death in children. 

Pediatricians are also concerned about the long-term effects of the viral infection on children, such as fatigue and respiratory issues. Further, while most children develop few symptoms, they can still transmit the virus to others. Vaccinating children is an important key to stopping the spread of coronavirus.

Where can I get my kids their shots?

At UMass Memorial Health, we are offering the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12-15 at all three of our community vaccine clinics in WorcesterMarlborough and Leominster. The vaccine will also be available at many of the same locations adults have been getting their shots, including drug stores and clinics. You can see a listing of all vaccination locations in Massachusetts on the state vaccine website.

Will there be places where vaccination of children will be required, such as camps, sports or school?

It is possible that some activities and institutions may require vaccination. Some colleges and private schools are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for students returning to campuses this fall.

When will children younger than 12 be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination?

Pfizer has indicated that it plans to submit applications to the FDA for emergency use authorization in children ages 2-5 and 5-11 in September.