Answer Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids 12 and Up

You'll get questions about vaccinating kids against COVID-19...now that Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine is authorized down to age 12.

Preliminary evidence suggests this vaccine has high efficacy at preventing COVID-19 in children age 12 to 15...with side effects similar to patients age 16 or older.

No cases of symptomatic COVID-19 occurred in the vaccinated group versus 16 in the placebo group...in the study of 2,260 kids age 12 to 15.

Expect data with the Moderna vaccine in children down to age 12 soon...and with Johnson & Johnson/Janssen later this year.

Help boost vaccine confidence among parents and adolescents.

For instance, parents may ask why their child should be vaccinated...since most kids who get COVID-19 only have mild illness.

Educate that about 1 in 3 kids hospitalized for COVID-19 end up in the ICU. Plus kids can also have "long-haul" symptoms (fatigue, etc)...or serious complications, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

Point out that vaccinating children may help protect others...such as elderly grandparents or immunocompromised friends or family.

And vaccinated kids don't need to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19.

Clarify that COVID-19 vaccines do not affect DNA...and there's no evidence that ANY vaccine leads to infertility. Also explain that COVID-19 vaccines aren't live...so they can't cause "viral shedding."

Give kids 12 to 15 the same dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as other patients... 0.3 mL IM in the deltoid, with a second dose 3 weeks later.

Anticipate Pfizer-BioNTech kits will come with 1-inch needles...and use these for most adolescents. If you choose to use a 5/8-inch needle for smaller kids, stretch the skin tightly when injecting.

Monitor for at least 15 minutes after vaccination. Recommend sitting...since fainting is common in adolescents after any vaccine.

Be aware, CDC now says that you no longer have to space any COVID-19 vaccine apart from other vaccines...in kids or adults. Co-administration isn't expected to increase side effects...or impact the immune response.

Get more talking points about the benefits of immunization in our FAQ, Communicating About COVID-19 Vaccination. And see our chart, COVID-19 Vaccines, for doses, updated storage requirements, and more.

Key References

  • MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep Published online May 14, 2021; doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7020e1
  • www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-considerations.html (5-21-21)
  • www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-emergency-use (5-21-21)
  • www.fda.gov/media/144413/download (5-21-21)
Pharmacist's Letter. June 2021, No. 370601



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