COVID-19 Vaccines for Children Under 5

Dear WCAAP members,

On Friday, June 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Authorization (EUA) for use of Pfizer-BIONTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in children as young as 6 months old. This decision has been confirmed by the CDC and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. In the US, since March 2020, 2.5 million COVID-19 cases have occurred among those under 5 years old accounting for 86% of all hospitalizations and 1.7% of deaths. Below are some resources that you may find helpful while helping families become informed about the COVID-19 vaccine authorization for children under 5.

News releases and articles:

Materials to stay informed and raise awareness:

  • Reassure parents and caregivers about the COVID-19 vaccine for children, teens and young adults using resources from the AAP COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign Toolkit
  • Share videos and messages on your own social networks using these prepared AAP posts to help families understand the science behind the vaccine so they can make informed decisions about protecting their children with the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The CDC has an information sheet summarizing vaccine preparation and administration for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • The CDC has an  information sheet  summarizing vaccine preparation and administration for the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • The CDC provides a COVID-19 vaccine immunizations schedule based on age and medical conditions. Scheduling considerations include:
    • Administer the appropriate vaccine product based on the recipient’s age and the product’s age indications.
    • COVID-19 vaccines may be administered on the same day as other vaccines.
    • Doses administered at any time after the intervals outlined below are valid.
  • The CDC provides an At-A-Glance COVID-19 Vaccination Schedules resource.  The schedule determines how many total COVID-19 vaccine doses are recommended based on primary series product, age, and immune status.
  • CDC Information for parents and caregivers of children ages 6 months and older regarding the COVID-19 vaccine: 6 Things to Know about COVID-19 Vaccination for Children
  • The Washington State Department of Health has developed a COVID-19 Vaccines: Pediatric Vaccine Toolkit for Providers to assist in promoting COVID-19 vaccination discussions, answering parent questions, and provide tools to utilize in the clinic setting.
  • There are new CPT codes for the release of the new vaccine presentation. You can review AAP COVID-19 Vaccine Coding Chart to ensure that your clinic has the most up to date vaccine billing information.

General FAQ’s:

The information below comes fromHealthyChildren.org.

Why does the youngest age group need 2 doses of one product but 3 doses of the other product?

The two vaccines use different amounts of mRNA and have other differences in composition. Parents should not choose the vaccine for their child based on the number of doses, because they may be the same number in the end.

  • The 3-dose vaccine (Pfizer) was first tested using 2 doses. Adding the third dose was found to be more effective at protecting babies and young children from the omicron variant that is that is the most common variant spreading in the United States right now. The vaccine is a 3-dose series.
  • The 2-dose vaccine (Moderna) was tested using 2 doses. They were found to be safe and effective. Right now, Moderna is studying a third dose of their vaccine. It is possible that the vaccine also may turn into a 3-dose series.

Children will have highest degree of protection two weeks after they get the last required dose.

Is one COVID vaccine better than the other?

The AAP does not recommend one vaccine over the other. They have both been proven to be safe and effective. Parents should have their children vaccinated with either vaccine. Depending on the vaccine product, your baby or young child will need two or three doses. Most parents should get whichever vaccine is most available to them. In some instances, they may have only one option. This also is common for other types of childhood vaccines in which there are multiple manufacturers.

Where can babies and young kids get a COVID vaccine?

It is always best to begin with your child’s pediatrician. Your child’s pediatrician is a trusted source who knows your child and can answer all your questions about the COVID vaccine.

If your child’s pediatrician has either or both vaccines, they can arrange for your child to get vaccinated. If not, they can help you sort through options. The vaccines are expected to start to become available for children very soon after the recommendations have been finalized. The COVID-19 vaccine may be given at the same time as other immunizations, so you can ask about catching up on other vaccinations at the same visit. Public health agencies, many clinic settings and pharmacies also are planning to provide the vaccine.

Will my baby have side effects from the COVID shot, and are they serious?

Most parents are familiar with the minor side effects that vaccines can cause in children. The same side effects that we see with routine childhood vaccines have been seen in the studies of these vaccines. They are things like soreness and redness where the shot goes in. Some babies and children don’t feel well later in the day of the shot or on the next day. A small number of vaccinated children get fever—and very few get high fever. Usually, it lasts only a day or two.

Thousands of children were in the studies, and there were no children with serious allergic reactions, heart inflammation or other serious problems related to the vaccines that may worry parents.

When should they get a vaccine if they had COVID infection?

If they have had a COVID infection, they should receive a COVID-19 vaccination according to CDC guidelines. The benefits of the COVID vaccine outweigh the risks of being infected with the virus, which could include hospitalization, long COVID, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and death.

How well do the COVID vaccines work in the youngest age group?

Babies and young children 6 months to 5 years who get COVID vaccines likely will get protection similar to the protection older kids get. The level of protection from symptoms of COVID infection is less than 50%. Both vaccines are expected to be much more effective in preventing hospitalization and other serious issues.

Remember

It’s more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and vaccination is still the best way to prevent serious illness or complications like long-COVID. Now the youngest age can get the vaccine and be protected.

The COVID vaccine is the most closely studied in history. The CDC continues to monitor the vaccine and encourages everyone to report any side effects by participating in v-safe, an after-vaccination health check-in program.

Additional Information found on HealthyChildren.org:

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