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Five Things to Understand About the Children's COVID-19 Vaccine


With the development of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, children ages 5-11 are now able to receive a vaccine that protects against COVID-19. Dr. Jocelyn A. Dummett, board-certified pediatrician and pediatrics division lead at Crystal Run Healthcare, provides clarifications to the top concerns and questions she and fellow pediatricians at Crystal Run Healthcare have been answering about the COVID-19 vaccine for children.


1. Pfizer-BioNTech is an mRNA vaccine.

The development of mRNA technology, like that in the COVID-19 vaccine, is not new. mRNA vaccines provide a blueprint of genetic information for our cells to produce antibodies by introducing a small, inactive portion of the virus protein into the body. The inactive virus protein offers the body a way to identify the virus without actual viral exposure or infection by a “live” virus. By using a specific area of the virus, vaccine-generated antibodies can recognize and fight more variants and mutations of the COVID-19 virus.


2. Children’s COVID-19 vaccine is a smaller dosage of the adult vaccine.

While the ingredients are all the same, the dosage is smaller for children than it is for adults. The correct dosage minimizes possible side effects and presents the ideal amount for a child’s developing immune system. Children ages 5-11 receive 10 micrograms of mRNA in each Pfizer vaccine compared with the 30 micrograms for adults. If your child experiences side effects, talk to your pediatrician for advice on non-aspirin pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and other steps you can take after your child’s vaccination.


3. The risks for myocarditis and pericarditis from the COVID-19 vaccine are just as low as all other vaccines, and even lower than from a COVID-19 exposure.

Myocarditis and pericarditis, or inflammation of the heart and its surrounding tissue, are rare side effects of vaccination and are also potential side effects of many viruses, including COVID-19. In a recent study, researchers found that unvaccinated people are more than twice as likely to experience heart inflammation through a positive COVID-19 case than a person receiving the vaccine. Despite this, the risk of myocarditis is low, affecting fewer than 10 in 1 million people receiving the vaccine, and 40 in 1 million people who experience a positive COVID-19 case. Cases of myocarditis from vaccination have also had less severe symptoms, quicker recovery times, and less treatment needed than cases of myocarditis caused by the COVID-19 virus itself.


4. It can be received at the same time as other vaccines.

Like many of your child’s vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine can be taken around the same time as other vaccines. This presents an opportunity to review your child’s vaccination schedule with their pediatrician and make sure that they’ve also received their flu vaccine for the season.


5. It helps prevent major COVID-19 symptoms.

While symptoms from COVID-19 have largely been mild in children, it is still currently the third leading cause of death for children in the United States. In addition, the new omicron variant has increased hospitalizations of children with positive COVID-19 cases, with a seven-day average of more than 800 children being admitted into hospitals in the U.S. every day since the start of the new year. Long-term symptoms of COVID-19 have also been prevalent in children. Affected children and teens have reported symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, joint pain, and headaches in varying intensity months after their exposure to COVID-19.


It is important to keep your child’s immune system as protected as possible. You can schedule your child’s COVID-19 vaccine online through Crystal Run Healthcare’s vaccination portal. For more information about the children’s COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Vaccine for Children page on Crystal Run’s website.


Dr. Jocelyn A. Dummett is a Board-Certified Pediatrician and Pediatrics Division Lead at Crystal Run Healthcare. She earned her Medical Degree at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Dr. Dummett completed her Internship in Pediatrics at Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers of New York in New York, New York, and her Residency in Pediatrics at SUNY Downstate Medical Center/Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. Her clinical interests are pediatric weight management. Dr. Dummett is currently seeing patients in Middletown, NY.