Watch CBS News

'It Really Puts The Pandemic Ending In Perspective:' COVID-19 Vaccines Now Approved For Children 5-11

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - So it's official this morning children ages 5–11 can now get Pfizer's COVID vaccine.

It's a smaller dose and will come from smaller needles.

In some places, the shots are going to be available as early as today.

"I think it's very exciting, I think it really puts the pandemic ending in perspective," says Dr. Jennifer Preiss, a pediatrician with Allegheny Health Network and has been gearing up her office to make the shots available.

The shots are a third of the original vaccine shots adults were given.

"It is going to be a two vaccine series separated by three weeks, which is identical to the adults, and what's really important is that immunity is not completely done or full until about two weeks after that second vaccine," she says.

So while immunity for Thanksgiving is not possible Dr. Preiss says, "yes, but Christmas, if people jump on it, Christmas, kids will be appropriately and have appropriate immunity."

Just as some adults got sick with their vaccine shots Dr. Preiss says that's possible for children too.

"It's about 10 to 20% of vaccine receivers, get some kind of reaction, that reaction can be sore arm and swollen lymph nodes under the place that where they got the vaccine, and can be as broad as having a low-grade headache for two or three days or possibly feeling somewhat ill with fever and mild, achy ness all over their body," she explains.

Dr. Preiss says the vaccine effectiveness is impressive at 91% in the Pfizer trial with 5 to 11-year-olds.

"Compare those to what we give our children on an annual basis for flu, it is much, much higher," she says. "Flu runs between 40 and 60% immunity, so these vaccines are far better than what we even asked for flu."

Those smaller needles Dr. Preiss says are needed so the vaccine goes into a child's muscle and doesn't overshoot into the core of the arm.

WATCH: Fact vs. Fiction

Even before this approval, Dr. Preiss says she has already been dealing with parental concerns.

One of the biggest is a social media myth that worried parents fear the vaccine could impact a girl's fertility.

"So that misinformation campaign about fertility really took hold and needs to be disavowed, it's not true," she says.

Then there is myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart in children that has been associated with COVID.

Dr. Preiss says there is a very slight risk of myocarditis from the vaccine.

"This myocarditis side effect is much, much less severe and 99% of the time is treated with symptomatic medication that's just over the counter and rest and will completely resolve within weeks if not two or three months," Dr. Priess explains.

She says getting myocarditis from COVID can have long-term, adverse impacts.

As for the freedoms a child will receive from getting the protection of the vaccine, "I think eventually when there's enough vaccinated children or children that have actually had COVID within the schools, I think the vaccine, the mask mandate will come down. I think there'll be a lot more freedom to have children socialized normally like you're supposed to socialize."

She says restrictions on sports and extracurricular activities will become less stringent.

But that's going to take about 80% vaccinated or have had COVID and that will be tough when a CBS News poll last night indicated 30% of parents have already indicated they won't get their child vaccinated against COVID.

As for protecting children under five, Dr. Preiss says since that vaccine is still in trials, the best protection for the youngest children is for everyone else in the family to be vaccinated, creating a vaccination bubble around them.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.