The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same testing and analysis that is used for all vaccines to make sure they’re safe and effective for children 5 and older. They're being made available based on guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

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The Pfizer-BioNTech (Comiranty) vaccine is fully approved for standard use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for individuals 16 and older, and authorized for emergency use for those aged 5-15.

Can children get vaccinated against COVID-19? 

Yes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use for children ages 5 and older. This is the only COVID-19 vaccine available to children at this time. 

Read more about emergency use authorization

Parents who would like to get their children vaccinated through UI Health Care can do so by:

Scheduling a vaccination through MyChart or Schedule online at uihc.org

Notice: Online scheduling for 5-11 year old children will be available starting Nov. 3, 2021.

If your child has an upcoming visit already scheduled at UI Health Care–Iowa River Landing, your provider may discuss getting your child vaccinated during your visit. 

Are children recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Yes. Our pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children be vaccinated against COVID-19 when they are eligible (currently ages 5 and older) to help protect themselves from severe illness and as an important step in ending the pandemic. Children can get COVID-19 just like adults. While oftentimes children with COVID-19 may not end up getting as sick as adults with COVID-19 might, they are still at risk for severe illness and can spread the virus to other children, as well as adults who may experience severe illness.

If you have questions or concerns about vaccinating your child, please talk with your pediatrician or primary care provider.

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children? 

Like other drugs and biologics, vaccines released in the U.S. must go through multiple phases of rigorous testing, analysis, and review as they are developed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitors the vaccine development process and testing results for efficacy and safety. As part of the FDA’s formal process to determine if the vaccine is authorized for public use, it also seeks a recommendation from a multidisciplinary team of experts consisting of independent medical officers, microbiologists, chemists, biostatisticians, and other health experts. If authorized, the FDA continues to oversee the vaccine and its manufacturing to monitor ongoing safety. The COVID-19 vaccine has undergone all of the steps described here.

Although the speed at which the COVID-19 vaccine was developed was faster than most vaccine development processes, COVID-19 vaccines are still required to go through the proper testing and analysis to make sure they are safe—no step in the process has been skipped.

Clinical trials were conducted with children ages 5 to 17, just like the adult clinical trials, to test the effectiveness of this COVID-19 vaccine.

Why do children need to be vaccinated against COVID-19? 

Children can get COVID-19 just like adults. While oftentimes children with COVID-19 may not end up as getting sick as adults with COVID-19 might, they are still at risk for severe illness and can spread the virus to other children, as well as adults who may experience severe illness. Vaccinating children is safe and effective for your child and your family and is an important step to returning to normal things like in-person learning, sports, and activities.

Will the dosage of the vaccine given to children be the same as adults?

The vaccine dosage for children ages 5 to 11 is one-third the dosage that an adult receives. The vaccine dosage for 12- to 17-year-old children is the same as the adult dose.

As opposed to many medications, vaccine dosages are based on age and not size or weight. If a child turns from 11 to 12 years of age in between their first and second dose, the second dose should be the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for adolescents and adults. However, if the child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years for their second dose, they do not need to repeat the dose.

What side effects from the vaccine can I expect for my child?

Children receiving the vaccine may experience the same side effects as an adult would. Common side effects include a sore arm, fatigue, headache, fever, or chills lasting up to around 48 hours after vaccination. These side effects are normal and show that the body is mounting a response to the vaccine, which helps your child’s body to protect itself against the COVID-19 virus. Some patients may not experience these side effects, but the vaccine is working.

Will the vaccine impact my child’s development?

No. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine get vaccinated as soon as they are able. Clinical trials show that this vaccine is safe and effective for children.

Can any of the vaccines give my child COVID-19?

No. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. This vaccine gives your child’s cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus, which then teaches their body how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if they are exposed in the future. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the virus, so they can’t give your child COVID-19.

Does an mRNA vaccine change my child’s DNA or genetic code?

No. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. The messenger RNA contained in the COVID-19 vaccine cannot integrate into your child’s DNA or their human genes and is broken down very quickly once it's exposed in the body. The COVID-19 vaccines cannot change your child’s DNA.

Learn more about mRNA vaccines

Is it safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines, like flu?

Yes, if a patient is eligible, both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit. In addition to flu vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines as well.

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