With more of the population 12 years and older vaccinated against COVID-19, parents are now looking at vaccinating younger children ages 5-11. UC Davis Health pediatricians offer answers to your questions about getting your kid the COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have approved emergency-use authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. This expands vaccine availability to about 28 million children in the U.S. in this age group.

UC Davis Health will start vaccinating children in this age group the week of Nov. 8. To set up a vaccine appointment for your child:

  • Make an appointment with one of UC Davis Health’s vaccine clinics through MyTurn.ca.gov (enter zip code 95817)
  • Schedule an appointment through the MyUCDavisHealth website or mobile app

UC Davis Health’s pediatric experts recommend COVID-19 vaccination for children who are eligible. Pediatric vaccinations are available at our clinic locations in Folsom, Elk Grove, Roseville, Davis (on Covell Blvd.), Midtown Sacramento and the Glassrock Building on our Sacramento campus. View our clinic addresses

According to the FDA, the immune response of kids ages 5 to 11 was similar to the immune response in people ages 16 to 25. "The vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11," according to the FDA.

Pfizer-BioNTech released the data previously and the FDA has posted their data to the website. UC Davis pediatricians conclude that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and look forward to having it available for younger children.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose for younger children is 10 mg, which is 1/3 of the dose for older kids and adults. It is the same schedule: two shots that are 21 days apart.

Yes, children may experience the same short-term side effects that adults may experience after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, including a sore arm, fatigue, fever, chills and muscle or body aches. Your child may experience more side effects after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than the first, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Younger people have a stronger immune response to vaccinations. As a result, they have higher antibody levels following immunization, meaning their immune systems are working harder.

At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, with the highly infectious Delta variant, UC Davis Health pediatricians say you're either going to get vaccinated or you're likely going to get COVID-19. Pediatricians suggest that you don't want to take your chances with your kids getting the virus because they can suffer serious consequences.

Children have a lower risk of severe illness, but that doesn't mean that they have no risk. In the 5- to 11-year-old age group, already there have been 1.8 million cases of COVID-19, more than 8,000 hospitalizations and 94 deaths, as of Oct. 29, 2021. So the virus can cause significant disease. This age group is also the highest risk for the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which can be quite severe.

Read more: Child with MIS-C receives life-saving care at UC Davis Children’s Hospital

Kids Considered podcast: Benefits and risks of COVID-19 vaccine for teens 

Yes, health experts recommend getting the vaccine even if your child had COVID-19. There isn’t enough information to say if you have natural immunity from being sick or how long it may last, according to the CDC.

It is recommended that you wait until your child has recovered from acute illness and no longer needs to isolate (typically 2 weeks). Experts also suggest waiting about 90 days after recovery from COVID-19 (as reinfection is unlikely in the first months after infection). The waiting period can help lessen the reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccines have been one of the most effective tools in reducing the risk of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases. Requiring a vaccine for students is not new. With the addition of COVID-19, California now requires 10 immunizations. The Pfizer vaccine offers a similar rate of effectiveness (91%) as the polio (99%), measles (97%) chickenpox (90%) and mumps (88%) vaccines.

COVID-19 is less transmissible (3-7 transmissions per infection) than measles (12-18 transmissions) and chickenpox (10 transmissions), but similar to polio (4-6 transmissions). The case mortality rate for COVID-19 (0.008%) is less than that for measles (0.1%) and polio (0.05 - 0.025%), but higher than chickenpox (0.003%).

The CDC advises that your child can get a flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. You should talk to your child’s pediatrician if they are scheduled to get another vaccine around the time of their COVID-19 shot.

Learn how to get your flu shot from UC Davis Health

Children who have experienced a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis after a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose or to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine should not be vaccinated. Also, children who experienced an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose or have a diagnosed allergy to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine should not be vaccinated.

There is no evidence of long-term effects from getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

There's no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on fertility. Furthermore, there is no scientific theory for how COVID-19 vaccines could cause fertility problems. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) briefing for both Pfizer and Moderna detail the findings from the clinical trials about effectiveness, safety, and side effects. There are no reports of any impact on fertility. You can read the 50-plus page briefings from VRBPAC to the FDA on both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently funding research studies to find out if COVID-19 vaccination can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle.

The CDC says side effects in adolescents, including possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis “are rare, and the known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks.”