Vaccination against COVID-19 is now recommended for children aged 5-11 years. The research has shown that vaccination offers excellent protection against COVID-19 in children and adults. Vaccines give the immune system a helping hand to protect against serious illness and possible long-term effects from COVID-19. The Pfizer children’s vaccine is the approved COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 years in Australia. The dose is around one-third of the dose for people aged 12 years and older.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any live virus and cannot cause COVID-19. It contains the genetic code for an important part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein. After getting the vaccine, your child’s body makes copies of the spike protein. Your child’s immune system will then learn to recognise and fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which cause COVID-19. The body breaks down the genetic code quickly.
Benefits of the vaccine
Although most children who get COVID-19 have a mild illness, some children, including those with no history of health conditions, can become very unwell with COVID-19. Children with medical conditions have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or needing to be admitted to hospital if they get COVID-19.
Children will receive two doses of the vaccine, given generally 8 weeks apart.
It has been found that children who have received 2 doses are about 91% less likely to get sick from COVID-19 than children who have not received the vaccine. Protection against COVID-19 starts from about 2 to 3 weeks after the first dose. While one dose may give some protection, it may only be short term. Two doses will give improved protection. No vaccine is 100% effective, so it is possible that your child could still get sick from COVID-19 after vaccination, however, research has shown that people who are vaccinated are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 or need hospitalisation.
Safety of the vaccine
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) assesses all vaccine in Australia. For a vaccine to be approved, the TGA must assess that it is safe, effective and manufactured to a very high-quality standard. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines has been, and will continue to be, monitored throughout the COVID-19 vaccination program. The trial showed that the vaccine is safe in children and most side effects are mild.
Vaccine Side Effects
Expected side effects in the first one to two days after vaccination are less common in children than in teenagers and young adults. The most common side effects include sore arm, headache, fever and chills and fatigue. These usually go away on their own (within 1-2 days) or are treated with over-the-counter medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Department of Health. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11: information for parents and guardians. Australian Government: Department of Health. 20th December 2021. Accessed 1st February 2022. https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2021/12/covid-19-vaccination-information-and-consent-form-for-parents-and-guardians-of-children-aged-5-to-11-years.pdf.