Vaccines for 5-11 year olds


My youngest got his COVID vaccine yesterday and we are officially on our way to being a fully vaccinated house. Whew, anyone feel a huge sense of breathing again? It was fairly emotional hearing how several of his buddies also got vaccinated.

I also saw from a Twitter friend that her child is scared of needles. But, he wrote his best friend’s name on a post-it note, took it with him to the clinic, and said his buddy’s name over and over while getting his vaccine. Why? His best friend is high-risk and he knew the connection of how his vaccine would protect his buddy.

Goodness, y’all. That’s collective solidarity right there. Kids are awesome and resilient and courageous.

Now onto the data…

There’s a TON of bad information about the vaccines for kids. Yuk, friends. Let me help sift through the disinformation and reassure you on the main points.

The vaccines for kids are safe, effective, and safe, effective and safe, effective. Don’t believe the dumb info circulating. People are being really sneaky in how they are packaging messages that, frankly, are lies and gross misinterpretation of the real data. Let me show you the real data…(all data is from the ACIP meeting unless otherwise noted).

First, let’s look at how COVID-19 in kids compares with other vaccine-preventable diseases.

COVID-19 is not a benign disease in children. Look at how it compares to other vaccine-preventable diseases regarding average deaths per year. For other vaccines our kids get when they are littles (like MMR), COVID-19 deaths are way higher. For example, look at deaths per year for Rotavirus (a yucky stomach bug). Prior to vaccines for Rotavirus, deaths per year averaged 20. Now compare to deaths per year for COVID-19 without vaccines for kids - it’s triple the risk. This should be a major take-home for all of us: COVID-19 places a risk of death for children without vaccines.

Next, let’s look at the epidemiology of COVID-19 in children. During the Delta phase, children are as likely to be infected as adults and can transmit as efficiently as an adult. Although rare, MIS-C (the severe complication of COVID-19) was more frequent among young kids 5-11 years.

In children 5-11, COVID-19 was the 8th leading cause of death in the NCHS data. Whoa. This was also during the time that some mitigation measures were in place - so, the death toll would have likely been higher if these efforts had not been put in place.

Sadly, hospitalization rates among children differ by race and ethnicity. We saw this with adult data too. The burden is not equal.

30% of kids hospitalized with COVID-19 did NOT have underlying conditions.

30% of kids hospitalized with COVID-19 did NOT have underlying conditions.

Friends, this is not a benign disease.

Now that we’ve established the NEED for vaccines among kids, let me show you the data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

I want to start with this slide about the benefits of vaccinating 5-11 year olds. Look at how many cases, hospitalizations, MIS-C cases (the scary complication of COVID-19 in kiddos), and deaths can be prevented. In our communities.

Take home: There’s a huge individual and population-level benefit of vaccinating our kids.


By now, we all are familiar with this graph. The blue line corresponds to infections among kids who received the placebo doses in the Pfizer trial and the red line are infections among kids who received the 2-dose kid vaccines.

Take home: A STRONG protection against COVID-19 is seen with vaccines. We saw this with the adult data too.

What about side-effects?

Side effects were less frequent in kids than adults and mainly included a sore arm. My son had a sore arm the day of his first shot but nothing more today. No serious adverse reactions occurred in the trial.

I hope this helps alleviate some fears about these vaccines for children. They are safe, effective, and safe, effective. Don’t believe the crazy-town stuff circulating on the interwebs about them.

If you’re worried about long-term side effects and fertility issues (that’s one of the main disinformation circulating), go look at my post here. Scroll to the end to see why fertility is not an issue with these vaccines and long-term side effects shouldn’t be either.

***As a reminder, I do not respond or read comments on social media/email. However, I do respond and read comments here on Substack for paid subscribers. Thanks to everyone for the support and community as we keep navigating our way through this pandemic. If finances are a barrier to subscribing (less than a dollar a day), let me know! The science is always free. Subscribing help keeps the trolls and threats away from myself and family. =) And, supports the side-gig of mine with coffee and tea.

Love your (little) neighbors,