COVID-19 vaccines have been available for adults 18 years and older since December 2020. As of October 29, 2021, pediatric doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 have been approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
This means that Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children and teens from the ages of 5 to 17, and a wider range of people can be protected from infection and from infecting others.
What vaccines are available?
In the United States, Pfizer is approved by the FDA, with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen approved for emergency use for adults. But, which ones are available for kids?
While Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are not yet available for pediatric use, all offered vaccines are additionally recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help protect against COVID-19.
Adolescents ages 12 years and older receive the same dosage of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as adults 18 years and older. However, children ages 5-11 years cannot get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine given to adults and adolescents ages 12 years and older. Instead, children ages 5-11 years receive a reduced dose that is one-third of the adult dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, smaller needles that are designed specifically for children are used for this age group.
None of the ingredients have changed. The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults and adolescents. Just like the adults and adolescents, younger children will need a second shot of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks after their first shot.
People receiving the Pfizer vaccine are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose.
Why get your kids vaccinated?
Vaccination is the best way to protect anyone from COVID-19. People of all ages can be affected and can get sick. While older adults are typically the most susceptible to serious illness, there have been cases where children have gotten seriously ill. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 have also suffered from long term effects referred to as Long COVID or post-COVID conditions, that linger after the virus has left. (For New Yorkers with Long-COVID, resources are available with AfterCare.)
It has become more important to vaccinate as many people as possible. Getting kids vaccinated will help prevent these conditions, protect others in the community, and stop the transmission of the virus.
Getting your kids vaccinated
In New York City, parents or guardians must give permission to get vaccinated and children ages 5-15 must have an adult with them.
Vaccines for children are available in schools, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and various other public vaccination sites across the city. You can also find an appointment using the vaccine finder tool.
COVID-19 vaccines are free for all ages. Health insurance or immigration status does not to be shared in order to receive one.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)