What you need to know about COVID vaccines for young children

Here are some details about the two messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc / BioNTech SE for young children:


Modern vaccine is given in two doses to children aged 6 months to 6 years. Doses of 25 micrograms are given at 28-day intervals. Adults received 100 micrograms by injection for their first two doses.

The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is a three-dose treatment for children aged 6 months under 5 years. The first two doses are given at 21 day intervals and the third is given at least two months after the second. Each dose is 3 micrograms, which is less than the 10 micrograms given to children aged 5 to 11 years and the 30 micrograms given to persons 12 years of age and older.

Both companies had studied lower-dose versions for young children to try to reduce side effects.


Modern vaccine was estimated to be 50.6% effective in preventing symptomatic infections in children aged 6 months under 2 years and 36.8% in children aged 2 to 6 years in a clinical trial with over 5,000 subjects.

It is not yet known how effective the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is in preventing infection in people under 5 years of age due to the low number of symptomatic cases of COVID-19 among children participating in the trial. An initial analysis based on 10 symptomatic cases of COVID-19 indicated a vaccine efficacy of 80.3% in this group. Once 21 children in the trial have received symptomatic COVID-19, companies will be able to complete the effectiveness of the vaccine.

The companies’ two trials showed that the vaccines generated an immune response similar to that seen in older age groups.


None of the vaccines raised serious safety concerns in trials.

Heart inflammation known as myocarditis and pricarditis has been shown to be a rare side effect of vaccines in young men, but few cases have been reported in the United States in children aged 5 to 11 years, and none in any of the trials for the youngest age group.


Some children have reported pain and swelling at the injection site after vaccination with both vaccines.

Pfizer’s low-dose vaccine was generally better tolerated, and only slightly more participants who received the vaccine complained of fever, irritability, or fatigue compared with those given placebo. In children aged 2 to 4 years, 33.7% of participants receiving their second dose of the vaccine reported any of these side effects, compared with 32.2% receiving placebo.

For the Moderna vaccine, 58.9% of 3-5 year olds reported some form of reaction such as fever, headache or fatigue after receiving their second dose, compared to 37.2% of participants receiving placebo.


COVID-19 is generally milder in children than in adults, but there have been more than 440 COVID-related deaths in the United States among those under 5, according to FDA officials.

Data have shown that in older children and adults, vaccines protect against hospitalization and death, according to Dr. Matthew Harris, Pediatric Emergency Physician at Northwell Health New York.

People who have been infected with COVID-19 and given a booster shot are the most protected against COVID-19, he said.


Vaccines will be available at pediatricians’ offices, pediatric hospitals, health clinics and pharmacies.

Not all pharmacies will carry the vaccines for this group, and some will only give them to children over three years of age. CVS Health Corp., for example, will offer vaccines to children aged 18 months, while Walmart Inc and Rite Aid Corp. have said they will make them available to children 3 years of age and older.

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