COVID Vaccine for Kids Under 16
Attention parents: As of May 10, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15. Data specific to the 12-15-year-old group shows 100% efficacy, robust antibody responses and was well tolerated. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges youths and adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them. This is especially important with a rise in cases caused by variant strains of the virus, which seem to be more contagious.
Clinical trials are now starting in children as young as 6 months old, but a vaccine for children under the age of 12 has not yet been approved.
Two vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) already have received emergency use authorization for adults, and one – the Pfizer -- can also be given to 16- and 17- year-olds.
(Update, effective May 6, 2022: Ochsner Health COVID-19 vaccination locations, including hospital, clinic and community sites, are halting administration of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, effective Friday, May 6, 2022. Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations, which have full FDA approval, continue to be available to patients. Ochsner’s pause on the administration of J&J was made out of an abundance of caution following guidance from the FDA, which notes very rare but potentially serious side effects.)
Why has it taken longer for a vaccine to be approved for children?
A child’s immune system is different than an adult’s and must be specifically studied when given a vaccine. The vaccine had to demonstrate adequate levels of efficacy in adults before considering starting trials on children. Pfizer initially only recruited 16- and 17-year-olds for its vaccine trial for children. In October 2020, Pfizer received approval to enroll children as young as 12 into the trial.
Is it the same vaccine that a parent or other adult receives?
Yes, the Pfizer vaccine for teenagers ages 12 to 15 is the same two-dose regimen currently being administered to those who are ages 16 and older.
Should my child receive the vaccine? Is it safe?
The COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective way of preventing the spread of COVID-19. While early in the pandemic, some believed that children were not susceptible to COVID-19, that has been proven false. Children can get sick from the virus and certainly play a role in the spreading it.
Ochsner will only recommend and administer vaccines that the Food and Drug Administration has certified as safe and effective for all patients and employees, including our most vulnerable populations. The benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks of forgoing immunization for your child.
The CDC recommends that other vaccines not be given within 14 days of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Parents should keep this in mind when scheduling their child’s vaccines required to enter summer camps or school.
What should my child do until getting a vaccine?
In addition to receiving the vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through mask wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene.
Currently, CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 2 wear a facemask.
Ochsner is committed to the safety and well-being of your child and will continue to closely monitor any new information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
For more information, visit www.ochsner.org/vaccine.