NEWS

Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine Is Effective in Kids 5 to 11 Years Old—What This Means

Child getting a shot in the arm

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Key Takeaways

  • According to trial data, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and well tolerated in kids ages 5 to 11 years. 
  • Pfizer and BioNTech say the antibody response and side effects in this age group were similar to ones seen in older people.
  • This is welcome news for many parents who want to protect their younger kids from COVID-19 infection.

It is the news that many parents have been waiting for—according to trial data, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and well-tolerated in kids ages 5 to 11 years. 

In a press release, Pfizer and BioNTech revealed that the antibody response and side effects in this age group were similar to ones seen in older people.

The trial included more than 2,000 children, who were each given two smaller doses of the vaccine than those given to people 12 and older. The companies said that it produced antibody responses and side effects in children that were comparable to those seen in a study of people 16 to 25 who received the full dose of the vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech submitted their data to the FDA for emergency use authorization and received approval on Nov. 2. They also have a trial underway for kids under 5, which they expect to see results from by the end of the calendar year. 

Rising COVID-19 Cases in Children 

COVID-19 cases have surged in the U.S. in recent months. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 6.5 million children in the US have tested positive for COVID-19 (the equivalent of around 16% of all cases) as of Nov. 11.

Vidya Mony, DO

Only vaccinating adults will not help to end this pandemic, as adults are not the only group that’s affected by this virus.

— Vidya Mony, DO

“It is important to remember that many school-age kids under 12 years of age are still not eligible for vaccination, and many school districts are not mandating masking for in-person learning,” says Vidya Mony, DO, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California. 

Dr. Mony also points out that many of the schools across the nation didn’t open until after Labor Day. “We generally see infections about two weeks after the opening of in-person schools, and that is currently what we are still seeing now,” she explains. “It is also important to note that the majority of cases are coming from the states with the lowest vaccination rates.” 

The Importance of Vaccinating Kids 

“Viruses mutate in unvaccinated individuals,” Dr. Mony says. “If the country from which the Delta variant originated had a large vaccinated population, then the mutations may possibly have still occurred, but it most likely would not be as contagious as we know it is.”

If an individual is vaccinated, it allows less chance for mutation, which means less chance of new variants arising. “Only vaccinating adults will not help to end this pandemic, as adults are not the only group that’s affected by this virus,” Dr. Mony says. “Since all age groups are affected, all age groups should get vaccinated once it is approved for their age.”

Carol Winner, MPH

Our children have paid the biggest price in this pandemic, with so much uncertainty and isolation, and now we can work to ensure the safety of our 5- to 11-year-olds.

— Carol Winner, MPH

As a parent herself, Dr. Mony can understand parents who have concerns about the safety of the vaccine for their kids. “The important thing to remember is that before anything can get approved, there are many steps and multiple experts that separately review the data and bring up concerns as needed,” she says. 

Carol Winner, MPH, public health expert and founder of the social distancing brand Give Space, also understands that making critical healthcare decisions for our children can be fearful and difficult.

“Our children have paid the biggest price in this pandemic, with so much uncertainty and isolation, and now we can work to ensure the safety of our 5- to 11-year-olds,” Winner says. 

What This Means For You

If you still have concerns about vaccinating your child against COVID-19, speak to a medical professional who can help explain the pediatric data.

Whether your child is vaccinated or not, it is still important to protect their health—and that of the community. Continue to keep activities outdoors when possible, wear masks in public indoor buildings and when around large numbers of people, and practice social distancing and regular hand-washing.


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2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pfizer. Pfizer and BioNTech Announce Positive Topline Results From Pivotal Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine in Children 5 to 11 Years. Published September 20, 2021.

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report. Last updated October 11, 2021.