On June 20, the CDC endorsed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation that all children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This expansion makes nearly 20 million additional children in the U.S. eligible for both the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
Vaccine doses and schedule for children 6 months to 5 years old
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a 3-dose series, with each dose being one-tenth of the adult dose. Following the first dose, the second dose can be given 3-8 weeks later, then the third dose can be given after another eight weeks.
- The Moderna vaccine is a 2-dose series at one-fourth the adult dose. Following the first dose, the second can be given after 4-8 weeks.
- Children moderately or severely immunocompromised may need additional doses, similar to teens and adults according to the guidance of their doctor.
- Children can be considered fully immunized two weeks after their third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or two weeks after the second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
COVID-19 risk to children
At a press conference last week, Dr. Andy Pavia, director of epidemiology at Primary Children's Hospital, shared data about the relative risk of complications from COVID-19 for kids. “Luckily, not many children die of COVID, but there are still hospitalizations. There was a huge upturn in hospitalizations this winter with Omicron, and we're seeing that going on still with this milder but still pretty important summer surge that we're having,” Dr. Pavia said.
To give parents reassurance, the CDC stresses that the vaccines have demonstrated a high level of safety for young children. These vaccines have undergone—and will continue to undergo—the most intensive safety monitoring for ay vaccine in U.S. history. Conversely, risks associated with contracting COVID-19 pose a much, much greater risk to children than any possible complication due to immunization.