Breaking News
More () »

Here's what you need to know: COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-11

Millions of elementary school-aged children are now eligible for Pfizer's kid-size vaccine. Thousands of doses have already been shipped to Oregon and Washington.

PORTLAND, Ore. — In Oregon and Washington, kids ages 5-11 are now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine after clearing the federal and state requirements that have deemed it safe and effective.

Here's what you need to know about the newly approved kid-size vaccine doses: 

When can kids get the shot?

Kids ages 5-11 in Oregon and Washington can get a Pfizer COVID-19 shot starting Nov. 3 after receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. 

Vaccinations have also already started for elementary-aged children in the U.S.

Are kids getting the same vaccine as adults?

The Pfizer vaccine for kids contains a 10 microgram dose, one-third of the amount in vaccine doses for people 12 and older.

RELATED: No, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dosage is not the same for kids ages 5 to 11 as it is for adults

Where can kids get the shot?

Oregon has ordered roughly 120,000 kid-size doses to be distributed to about 300 sites. The federal government has offered an additional 60,000 doses to pharmacies in the state. 

To find an appointment for your child in Oregon, visit the Oregon Health Authority's vaccine locator. Then click "filter your results" and search by "Pfizer age 5 to 11."

The Washington State Department of Health said its initial supply will be about 315,000 kid-size doses, but said the supply will increase and "there will be enough vaccine for all eligible children." 

The Department of Health also has a vaccine locator tool. Search results for vaccination sites will indicate which age groups can get vaccinated at each site. 

A number of pharmacy chains plan to start kids' vaccinations at nationwide this weekend, including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid.

RELATED: CVS, Walgreens, Walmart open COVID vaccine appointments for kids under 12

You can also can try reaching out to health care providers and your child's pediatrician to learn where they might be available.

How do we know if the vaccine is safe?

The FDA gave the Pfizer vaccine emergency use authorization for elementary-aged children after a clinical trial involving 3,100 children who received the kid-size doses. Close to half the vaccine recipients were monitored for at least two months after their second shot. 

The vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection, and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study.

The FDA and CDC safety surveillance systems previously identified increased risks of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of tissue surrounding the heart) after getting the Pfizer vaccine, particularly following the second dose. 

Using modeling to predict COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths among children 5-11, the FDA said its assessment found the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. 

What are the side effects for kids?

Common side effects in the clinical trial included arm soreness after injection, redness and swelling, fatigue, headache, muscle and/or joint pain, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and decreased appetite. More children reported side effects after the second dose than after the first dose. 

Side effects were generally mild to moderate in severity and occurred within two days after vaccination, and most went away within one to two days.

Portland Public Schools planning vaccine pilot program 

Portland Public Schools is developing a pilot program aimed at vaccinating students ages 5-11. 

A spokesperson said eight schools are participating in the pilot program: Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary, Cesar Chavez School, Faubion School, Lent Elementary, Rigler Elementary, Rose Parks Elementary, Scott Elementary and Sitton Elementary.

PPS hopes to open six clinics by Thanksgiving and two more by early January.

The pilot program will focus on vaccinating students with barriers to accessing the vaccine. 

For kids under 5, when will the vaccine become available?

U.S. health officials estimate it could be until next year, at the earliest, when a vaccine would become available for children under the age of 5.

"We anticipate sometime early in 2022," said U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy in an interview with KGW. "There are still a number of steps that need to be taken, trials have to be completed, analyzed, then submitted to the FDA by the companies. The FDA then has to carefully review them along with the CDC and make sure the same rigorous standards that we apply to every other childhood vaccine are applied to this vaccine. And then and only then, will they make a vaccine available."

Can kids get the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines? 

According to the CDC's website, the Moderna and J&J vaccines are only authorized for emergency use for people 18 and older. 

The FDA has delayed its decision on whether to expand Moderna's vaccine to kids 12-17 because of possible risk of inflammation of the heart muscle after vaccination. 

As it awaits approval, Moderna is studying the effects of low dose vaccinations in kids 6-11. The company has claimed that it is safe and effective, but more research is needed. 

It's unclear when kid-size doses might be approved for Moderna or J&J. 

RELATED: FDA delays decision on Moderna COVID shot for children under 18

We'll be sure to update these answers as we learn more. 

Watch the Oregon Health Authority's press conference on COVID-19 vaccines for kids:

Before You Leave, Check This Out