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COVID booster shots for kids: Five facts for families
January 10, 2022
CHoR patient and nurse with masks bumping elbows

COVID booster shots for kids

The CDC has now authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for kids ages 12-15, and a third dose of the COVID vaccine for children ages 5-11 who are immunocompromised. With kids returning to school following winter break at the same time as the Omicron surge, our doctors agree that making sure your eligible family members get their next vaccines is an important item to put on your to-do list.

“Whether boosting adolescents who received their initial series several months ago, or ensuring extra protection for younger kids with compromised immune systems, it’s essential that parents are taking this next step,” said Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, pediatrician and physician leader of our Complex Care Clinic. “Omicron is showing us that anyone and everyone can be affected by this virus. It’s up to all of us to make sure we’re keeping its impact to a minimum.”

Breaking down COVID boosters for kids

  1. Why is a booster needed?
    While the COVID vaccines are doing a good job preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death, their protection against mild and moderate illness does seem to be reduced over time. A booster shot gives the immune system an extra bump – kind of like a reminder – to help the body continue fighting this coronavirus. It’s also helpful in protecting against new strains of the virus, such as Omicron and others that may come in the future.
     
  2. Does the booster use the same ingredients as the first and second dose vaccines?
    Yes – The Pfizer COVID booster is the same formulation as the Pfizer vaccines, so nothing new will be introduced to the body via the booster.
     
  3. Are the boosters safe for kids?
    The answer is yes here too! Prior to recommending the booster for these groups, the FDA reviewed data from more than 6,300 children ages 12-15 who received a booster shot in Israel and no new safety concerns were identified.

    Learn more about the safety of the COVID vaccine for kids ages 12-15 and 5-11.
     
  4. What are the booster side effects?
    Side effects of the booster shots have been similar to those of the initial vaccine doses. Your child may experience a sore arm, fatigue, headache and/or low-grade fever. These side effects are typically mild and only last for a day or two. They’re actually a good thing, serving as a sign that the body is doing what it should and building protection against COVID-19.
     
  5. When should kids get the booster shot?
    The CDC’s latest guidelines say that boosters can be given once it’s been at least five months since the second shot in the initial two-dose series. Kids ages 5 and up who are immunocompromised can get a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine 28 days after their second dose.

    The third dose is given closer in time to the initial series because people with suppressed immune systems often aren’t developing the level of protection they need from the first two shots. In comparison, the booster is recommended for people with normally functioning immune systems five or more months out, once the immunity from the initial two doses begins to wane.

What’s your family’s next step?

If you have questions about if and when your child should receive a COVID booster or third dose, check with their pediatrician.

If your child is a CHoR patient, give us a call at (804) 828-2467 to schedule an appointment for their booster or third dose.

Whether getting your child’s next shot at CHoR or a clinic/pharmacy in your community, be sure to bring their vaccination card so it can be updated accordingly.

Keep up with all the latest COVID news and information.

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