COVID-19 Vaccination for 5- to 11-Year-Olds

Reviewed on 1/3/2022
For children between the ages of 5 and 11 years, the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is the only COVID vaccine currently approved for children. The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has one-third the dose given to adolescents and adults.
For children between the ages of 5 and 11 years, the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is the only COVID vaccine currently approved for children. The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has one-third the dose given to adolescents and adults.

COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness that became a global pandemic in 2020. COVID-19 is different from other coronaviruses that cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

Which COVID Vaccines Are Approved for Children?

The best way to prevent infection with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is vaccination. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends that children between the ages of 5 and 11 years receive the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in children between the ages of 5 and 11 years has one-third the dose given to adolescents and adults, and the vaccine is delivered with a smaller needle. It requires two shots administered three weeks apart.

Recommendations from the CDC include:

  • Your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including the flu vaccine, at the same time
  • Serious health events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare
  • Side effects of COVID-19 vaccine in children: Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 12 to 17 years
  • These reactions are rare; in one study, the risk of myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech in the week following vaccination was around 54 cases per million doses administered to males ages 12 to 17 years
  • A severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, may happen after any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, but this is rare
  • Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • There is no evidence COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems

COVID Vaccines Not Approved for Children

  • The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are not yet approved for use in children. These vaccines have emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years and older. Moderna has requested full approval for its vaccine and Johnson & Johnson expects to apply for full approval later this year. 
  • Certain groups of adults who received a Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series, while boosters are available for individuals 18 years and older who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine two or more months ago.

What Are Symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Emergency warning signs that require immediate medical attention (call 911 or go to a hospital’s emergency department): 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Rash or blisters on skin or in mouth and on lips
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion 
  • Inability to wake or stay awake

How Is COVID-19 Diagnosed?

COVID-19 is diagnosed with a physical examination to check if patients have any of the hallmark symptoms of COVID-19, and a patient history which includes whether the patient had any known recent exposure to the virus. 

How Soon Do You Get COVID Test Results?

If COVID-19 is suspected tests used to diagnose the virus include: 

  • PCR tests (genetic or molecular test) 
    • Results can take hours to up to one week
    • More accurate than an antigen test
  • Antigen test
    • Results are available in less than one hour
    • Less accurate than a PCR test

An antibody test may be used to determine if a person had a past COVID-19 infection, but it is not used to diagnose current infections because it takes up to three weeks following infection for the body to produce antibodies to the virus. 

What Is the Treatment for COVID-19?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms in mild cases. 

Patients with mild illness are usually advised to remain home and self-isolate for 14 days to avoid spreading the virus. Mild COVID-19 symptoms can be treated at home and may include:

Casirivimab/imdevimab (Regen-COV), a monoclonal antibody combination, has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

Monoclonal antibodies are not indicated for use in severe cases.

More severe COVID-19 cases may require hospitalization and treatments may include:

  • Corticosteroids 
  • Immunotherapy 
    • Convalescent plasma
    • Immunoglobulin products
    • Interleukin inhibitors
    • Interferons
    • Kinase inhibitors
  • Antiviral therapy with remdesivir 
  • Antithrombotic therapy: anticoagulants and antiplatelet therapy 
  • High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen 
  • Ventilation 

Studies on hydroxychloroquine have shown it to be ineffective in treating COVID-19, with a high risk of fatal heart arrhythmias. Hydroxychloroquine is not recommended to treat COVID-19. 

Current guidelines neither recommend nor advise against the use of vitamin C, vitamin D, or zinc for COVID-19. Zinc should not be taken in doses above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) due to the risk of toxicity. 

Reviewed on 1/3/2022
Image Source: iStock Images