The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has authorized COVID-19 vaccine for young children as follows:
- A two-dose Moderna vaccine series is recommended for children ages 6 months through 5 years.
- A three-dose Pfizer vaccine series is recommended for children ages 6 months through 4 years.
The Alabama Department of Public Health had 55 healthcare providers who preordered 18,300 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and this vaccine is being directly shipped by the federal government. Vaccine orders will be able to be placed for other healthcare providers, including public health departments, beginning Wednesday, June 22.
COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have been hospitalized because of the virus. While children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, the effects of the virus are unpredictable. In addition, at least 149 cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome of Childhood (MIS-C) have been reported in Alabama during this pandemic. MIS-C is a condition in which different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C require hospitalization and significant high level medical care. To reduce hospitalizations and risks of MIS-C, children should be vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination is safe, effective and the best way to protect children from COVID-19.
According to the CDC, before COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for children across age groups, scientists and medical experts reviewed safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials involving thousands of children. Over 11 million children and teens age 12-17 have already been vaccinated against COVID-19.
All COVID-19 vaccines have undergone a rigorous review process before being authorized for a given age group. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluation of vaccines for young children has been part of this overall thorough review process. Clinical trials were not started in children until after the trials in adults showed safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Additionally, part of what made the review process longer for young children is that experts were determining what dosage and series would be safe and effective for children under 5. After reviewing initial data on the effectiveness of the vaccine in young kids, the FDA waited to receive additional findings from clinical trials to ensure that its recommendation was based on a substantial amount of clinical data.
Another important reason for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect their friends, family and the broader community from the spread of the virus. As vaccination rates increase, the lower the chances that the coronavirus will mutate into dangerous variants.
Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are typically mild and subside in one to two days — such as soreness in the arm, fatigue, headaches or a slight fever. The risk of a child having a serious adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is very low. One rare complication that has been linked to the COVID-19 vaccine is myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), and data demonstrate a higher risk for such inflammation among younger males. However, reports of these complications are rare. The risk of developing myocarditis after a COVID-19 infection is much higher than the risk of developing myocarditis after the vaccine.
For more information about how to protect your children from COVID-19, about the vaccines, or about myocarditis, speak to your healthcare provider or pediatrician.
The initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine for children is limited and will be distributed to healthcare providers, pharmacies and county health departments. Please check for availability and make an appointment to have your child vaccinated. Go to vaccines.gov to locate a clinic near you.