If you have children 5 to 11 years old, there is good news — they are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for this age group. COVID-19 cases in children 5 through 11 years of age make up nearly 40% of cases in individuals younger than 18, so this safe and highly effective vaccine adds a much-needed layer of protection.1
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all who are eligible for the vaccine, including children 5 and older, should be vaccinated. If you’re deciding whether to vaccinate your young children against COVID-19, the answers to the following questions can help:
- What was the testing process for the Pfizer children’s vaccine?
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the FDA for children has gone through strict testing and trials and has been proven safe and effective. The effectiveness data assessed by the FDA enrolled thousands of volunteers ages 5 to 11 years old. In a subset of vaccine recipients, the vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19.1
- How does a COVID-19 vaccine work?
The vaccine teaches the body’s cells how to make a protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Then, the body reacts to this protein by producing antibodies that protect against an infection if the person comes in contact with the virus. The vaccine does not change our DNA.
- Can the vaccine make my child sick with COVID-19?
No. The vaccine does not contain the virus that causes COVID-19. Your child may experience side effects, but it does not mean they have COVID-19.
- What are the side effects of the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11?
The reported side effects of vaccination in children are comparable to those seen in adults. In the clinical trial, the side effects were mild to moderate and included soreness and pain around the injection site, fever, headache, tiredness, and chills. These are signs that the body is building protection by making antibodies. These side effects are normal and should go away after a few days.1 Hundreds of millions of people who have already received COVID-19 vaccines have shown no long-term side effects.2
- Can my child still get COVID-19 after vaccination?
Yes. While the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, there is still a small possibility of infection after vaccination. The Pfizer vaccine, which is administered to children 5 to 11 at one-third of the adult dose, is about 91% effective in preventing COVID-19. Those who are vaccinated generally have milder symptoms and lower rates of hospitalization.
- If my kids already had COVID-19, will they still benefit from the vaccine?
Yes. Even if your child already had COVID-19, it is possible for them to be infected again. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children who have had COVID-19 should be vaccinated.3 They’re less likely to have severe symptoms if they’re infected again.
- Is the vaccine recommended even for kids with certain health conditions?
Yes. Many children with health issues have a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. The AAP recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for all children 5 years and older who do not have contraindications using it. Be sure to talk to your pediatrician before having your child vaccinated.
- Is it safe for my child to get the COVID-19 vaccine along with the regular vaccines?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine can be administered in addition to current vaccines, such as those for measles or the flu. The body responds the same way whether the vaccines are given at the same time or separately.4
- Are there vaccine risks for children that I should be aware of?
Rare cases of heart inflammation (myocarditis) have been reported after administration of the Pfizer vaccine, especially among males 12 to 17 years old. After evaluating this potential risk and comparing it to the protection offered by the vaccine, the FDA believes that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the potential risks for children 5 to 11.1
To find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you, visit vaccines.gov.
Did you know if you need a COVID-19 test, you may be able to order a COVID-19 at-home testing kit at no cost to you? Children 2 and older can use this test for diagnostic purposes if they have been exposed or have symptoms of COVID-19. To order a test kit, go to anthem.com.*
* This test is available at no charge for diagnostic testing only. A doctor's order, while normally required for testing to be covered under your plan, is not required when ordering a test through this limited program. The test typically arrives in two business days or less and provides results in 10 minutes. This test is for members who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. This Rapid Diagnostic Test for the Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Antigen is an OTC Home Test for use under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for in vitro diagnostic use only. It is not being made available under FDA authorization for screening purposes.
1 U.S. Food & Drug Administration website, FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Children 5 through 11 Years of Age (accessed November 2021): fda.gov.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine (accessed November 2021): cdc.gov.
3 American Academy of Pediatrics website, COVID-19 Vaccines in Children and Adolescents (accessed November 2021): aap.org.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine (accessed November 2021): cdc.gov.