Common Questions about COVID Vaccines for Ages 5 to 11

Children ages 5 to 11 years old are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

With help from infectious disease experts at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, we've answered some common questions parents are asking pediatricians about getting the vaccine for children in this age range.

In addition, you can download this tip sheet for parents and this "My Vaccine Plan" worksheet to help you and your child prepare for their shot.

  • Children 5 to 11 years old can get the Pfizer mRNA vaccine. This is the only vaccine approved for this age group at this time. This vaccination requires 2 shots, with the second shot at least 21 days after the first.

     

  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

    COVID-19 vaccines were studied in tens of thousands of children in this age range. The vaccines met the Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. This is why the FDA has authorized giving the vaccine to children age 5 to 11.

  • Although fewer children have been infected with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can still be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. They can get sick from COVID-19 and spread COVID-19 to others. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • No, the vaccine for children ages 5-11 years is not the same dose as for children ages 12-15 years.

    It is the same number of shots: 2 doses at least 21 days apart.

  • Yes, a child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit or around the same time. There is no need to wait between vaccines.

  • Your child may have some side effects after the shot. These symptoms are are normal signs that their body is building protection. 

    Side effects may include:

    • pain
    • redness and swelling at the site of the shot
    • tiredness
    • headache
    • muscle pain
    • chills
    • fever
    • nausea

    These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities. But they should go away in 2 to 3 days.

    Ask your child’s doctor of other health care provider for advice about using a non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child.

    You shouldn't give pain relievers before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects.

  • Yes, your child should get the vaccine even if they had COVID-19 in the past. If they get the vaccine, they will have less chance to get sick from COVID if they’re exposed again.

  • Children who have had a condition called "'multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children" (MIS-C) should get the vaccine. But parents should speak with an infectious disease specialist first and wait at least 90 days after an MIS-C diagnosis.

    Children who have myocarditis (heart inflammation) from COVID should wait until their heart has recovered. The parents should talk with their pediatrician and heart specialist before getting their first shot.

  • Your child can safely get the COVID-19 vaccine if they have a mild illness, like the common cold or strep throat.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website offers the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines for children.

    Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt has created this parents' tip sheet and this "My Vaccine Plan" worksheet to help prepare for you and your child for their first COVID shot.