UPDATE: On May 10, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include children over the age of 12.
The FDA is expected to authorize Pfizer’s COVID vaccines for kids 12 and older next week, and a lot of parents have questions about the shots their children will receive. Many are asking whether children 12 and up will receive the same dose as adults.
Will kids receive the same COVID vaccine dose as adults?
- Spokespeople for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson
- Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University
WHAT WE FOUND
Pfizer and Moderna started their adolescent trials months ago for children 12 and older and recently published early results. Pfizer’s vaccine showed 100 percent efficacy among adolescents, and Moderna’s was 96 percent effective.
Both companies have made it clear that kids 12 and older will receive the exact same two-dose vaccine regimen as adults.
A spokesperson for Pfizer tells VERIFY, “It’s the same formulation and administered at the same level as adults in a two-dose regimen, 21 days apart.”
Moderna’s spokesperson said its adolescent vaccine is the “same vaccine, same dose.”
Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University says it’s no surprise that the vaccine does not need to be modified for adolescents.
“Immune systems of children are wonderfully responsive,” Dr. Schaffner said. “The immune systems are not calibrated to the size of the child.”
But Pfizer and Moderna may modify the dosage for children younger than 12. Those trials just started, and the companies are still figuring out the right amount for each age group.
Pfizer’s standard dose is 30 micrograms. But for kids 2 to 11 years old, the company says it’s testing 10 micrograms, then moving up to 20 and 30, depending on the age group’s tolerance. Pfizer said it did the same thing during the adult trial.
Moderna’s strategy is similar. The standard dose is 100 micrograms, but for children 2 to 11 years old, it’s testing 50 micrograms as well. And for kids under 2, Moderna will test 25 micrograms up to the full dose.
“The investigators, as they go down the age range, and of course the children get smaller, are trying to adjust the doses so that the children get good protection, but keep the side effects to a minimum,” Dr. Schaffner said.
Johnson & Johnson is well behind the other companies’ timelines, and just started its trial for children 12 and older. At this point, we don’t know if they’ll adjust the dosage for kids.
If they get Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines, kids 12 and older will get the exact same shots as adults. But children under 12 may receive smaller doses. Those younger kids are still months away from an authorized vaccine.
More from VERIFY: Yes, adolescents are reporting similar adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines as adults
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