COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids Under 5

Last Updated October 2022 | This article was created by editorial staff and reviewed by Deepak S. Patel, MD, FAAFP, FACSM

Though it isn’t in the news as much as it was in the beginning, the COVID-19 pandemic is still not over. To help continue to fight the spread of the disease, in June of 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children as young as 6 months of age. That approval was then endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control.

For parents of young children, it means more information for you to sort through regarding your child’s health. Here’s a look at what you need to know.

Path to improved health

If you are the parent of a child from 6 months through 4 years of age, you can now get them vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The FDA recommends that all children, including those that have already had COVID-19, should be vaccinated.

The American Academy of Family Physicians agrees, calling the availability of the vaccines “a relief for family physicians, parents, and caregivers who have anxiously awaited the safety review and authorization of these vaccines.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported a drop in COVID-19 cases among children since early June 2022. However, both the FDA and the CDC are still recommending the vaccine for younger children. This is because they can still spread the virus to those who are more likely to get seriously ill from it. This can include older relatives, such as grandparents, and those who have other health conditions.

There is a great deal of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. If you are concerned about the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine for your child, talk to your family physician.

Things to consider

For the Moderna vaccine, the FDA is recommending 2 doses—a month apart—for children between 6 months and 17 years old. A third dose may be added for those who are immunocompromised. This means they have other health conditions that put them at higher risk for getting the disease.

For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 3 doses are recommended. The first 2 doses will be given 3 weeks apart. A third dose will be given at least 8 weeks after the second dose.

Both the FDA and the CDC have stated that the vaccines are safe for younger children. Some side effects could include:

  • pain
  • swelling and redness at the site of the injection
  • slight fever
  • sleepiness
  • loss of appetite

Headaches, muscle aches, chills, and nausea were also reported by some children who were closer to the age of 5.

Vaccines are available through your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider. They are also available at hospitals and pharmacies, as well as state and local public health clinics and sites.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Is my child eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Where can I get the vaccine for my child?
  • Is the vaccine dangerous for younger children?
  • What side effects might my child experience?