Vaccines Approved for 5-11-Year-Olds in the U.S.

Last Friday, the FDA authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11. Then, Tuesday night, the CDC recommended the vaccine for children.

Unfortunately, that approval happened simultaneously with a bunch of closely-watched elections. Wednesday morning, most news sites did mention the vaccine’s approval, but those stories were buried underneath breathless election stories. I found them but I only found them because I actively looked for them.

So just so our U.S. readers don’t miss the news: if you have a child five years old or older, your child can now get vaccinated against Covid!

Tuesday night I made an appointment for my youngest to get his vaccine today. The next day, though, a friend told me that a local vaccination clinic (Instavaxx, for those of you in Chicago) would be taking walk-ins that afternoon starting at 2:00. When my wife got home from work, she picked our son up early and biked him to Instavaxx.[fn1]

An hour later, our son had his first shot and was home. As the youngest, he’s the last in our family to get his vaccine. And he was so excited to get it. (Also, the rest of us were so excited for him to get it.)

Polling suggests that about 1/3 of parents are eager to get their kids vaccinated. We clearly fall into that cohort.

It also suggests that about 1/3 want to wait to see how it’s going. If you’re in that cohort, here’s an anecdotal data point: my son has had no reaction to his shot. The rest of us had reactions ranging from very mild (tired for about a day) to mild-plus (flu-like symptoms for about a day).

But other than a slightly sore arm, my son was as energetic as ever yesterday and, so far, today. And now he’s begun the process of following the prophet, protecting himself from disease, and protecting his community.

It’s also worth noting that getting the vaccination for 5-11s is much easier than the first iteration of getting vaccinated. And while it was legally available this week, distribution is really supposed to kick in next week. So for those of you who have been waiting with bated breath to vaccinate your elementary school children, the wait is almost over! (For those of you with children younger than 5, I’ve got my fingers crossed on your behalf.)

[fn1] I was picking our neighbor’s kid up from school, so we could only take him once both of us were home.


  1. HokieKate says:

    Wonderful! Vaccines haven’t made it to my town yet (despite having 4/5 largest chains), but start in the state capitol 50 miles away tomorrow. I’m hoping our pharmacies will get stocked next week so my two older kids can get their shots. They are excited both for the protection and because they always get ice cream when they get shots.

  2. It’s not always a matter of parents being enthusiastic, opposed, or wanting to “wait and see”.

    We have 5 kids ages 10 and under. All 4 of those now eligible for the pediatric vaccine have some extreme sensory and emotional issues, such that it is a major production to get any medical procedure to happen. It took me and two nurses to hold my 9-year-old daughter down against her thrashing this year to get her a flu shot. While my wife and I want our kids to get vaccinated, we also recognize that it’s going to be a major endeavor to get it done. Between vaccine appointment availability, scheduling, and the need to take the kids one-by-one, it’s going to take a while.

    Fortunately for them, we all tested positive for Covid at the end of September, which the local school district treats the same as being vaccinated for 90 days after your positive test, so we have some breathing room to figure out the logistical issues. (My wife and I were both breakthrough infections, but fortunately she recovered quickly and I remained asymptomatic.)

  3. HokieKate, I hope they show up in your towns as soon as possible!

    And Observer, I certainly don’t want to suggest that if you didn’t get your kids vaccinated two days ago you’re opposed to vaccination. There can be serious logistical issues with getting the shots in kids’ arms; good luck with the scheduling, etc.!

  4. We’re still waiting for the pediatric doses of this years flu shot to be available in our county. We haven’t been able to get it from our children’s doctor, and when my wife had to take our 6 year old into the ER for a head injury they asked her if our daughter had the flu shot. My wife replied that we can’t find it, and if they had any. The nurse responded that they too don’t have it.

  5. Oh no. I hope you find the flu shot!

  6. Andy Larsen at the Salt Lake Tribune wrote up a good article about the decision behind authorizing the vaccinations for kids 5-11 that is definitely worth reading.

  7. My 10 y/o was scheduled with Public Health on Wednesday–and they called Tuesday to say they wouldn’t have doses until Friday–and he got it this AM.

  8. Awesome that he got it this morning! (Though I’m sorry it messed with your scheduling.)

  9. This Monday at a drugstore chain one town over was the earliest I could get near me for my kiddo. For our family, this will mean my kid can go back to church, too (our stake has zero mitigation efforts and almost nobody wears masks).

  10. Geoff - Aus says:

    In Australia 12 is the youngest to be approved yet. Because American vaccine producers don’t licence production by anyone else we had to wait for adequate supplies until July 5 months ago.

    So we have been trying to keep the virus at bay until we could be vacinated.

    We have just passed 80% of over 16 year olds double vaccinated, and some states have already reached 90%. Others are not opening borders until 90% is passed.

    Of our 8 states 5 have kept the virus under control and between them, with about half the population, have 30 deaths. The other 3 have 1765 deaths.

    If you had handled the covid virus as we have you would have had 23,050 deaths.
    If you had handled it as well as our better 6 states you would have had 500 deaths.

    Another occasion when we can show America how it should be done.

  11. A quick note: this post is about kids’ vaccines and I’d love to hear your experience getting your kid vaccinated. Or your frustration trying to find a place to get your kids vaccinated. Or your excitement for your even younger kids getting vaccinated.

    But don’t worry about responding to anti-vaxxers (unless you really want to). I’ll delete their comments when I see them and, if you respond, I’ll have to delete yours too (because it won’t make sense out of context). People may enjoy spreading misinformation but I’m not cool with it here. Thanks! And thank you so much for your inspiring stories and for your frustrations and honestly for the wonderful things you’re doing for your kids and your communities!

  12. Stephen Hardy says:


    I burn with shame at how poorly my country (the US) and culture have mismanaged and continue to mismanage the pandemic. It is without question that we could have had much less dying. I’m immunized and I “mask-up” when I go indoors except at home.

    However I have to wince at your certainty, your self-righteousness, and at your general over-reaching. Your numbers ignore all of the uncertainty associated with this pandemic. We want the pandemic to be some sort of morality play: These people did A while those did B. See how all the As lived and all those idiotic Bs died? Aren’t we all smarter and better since we know what is right? It just isn’t so clear cut. For example I don’t think that we know why the pandemic appears to be ebbing in the U S at this time.

    There are many significant differences between Australia and the US. And many significant similarities. I don’t think it’s helpful to be smug and certain in the face of so many unknowns. By claiming precision (this is how many deaths we should have had) I believe you undercut rather than bolster arguments for compliance with pandemic recommendations. You reveal apparent ignorance of the many assumptions involved with such projections .
    Now, let’s press forward with the vaccinations!

  13. Stephen Hardy says:

    Sorry Sam. I lack basic self control

  14. I’m so excited! My kids are 2 and 4, so we have a while to wait. But it’s great news for my nieces and nephews. I am hopeful by January/February we can get our kids vaccinated.

    Observer, I hear you. My 12-year old niece has a fairly severe needle phobia. Getting her the shot is not simple either. Best of luck to you and your kiddos.

  15. Justagirl says:

    Observer. I’ve had a child like yours. Autistic. At 7 years old he got e-coli. We talked about how necessary blood tests were and what would happen. And asked what he would like to do during the blood draw. His plan was this….totally his idea. “Sit on mom’s lap, rest my arm on hers, and have mom hold my mouth so I don’t scream 😱. We did that, he sat and watched the tech. After he said, “oh, not too bad.” We lucked out. Dentist, Valium for years, cry scream and beg, The first time we had to swaddle him. No guarantees but carefully painting a picture and giving them some power has worked for 30 years now. Good luck!

  16. Kids just got it today. So that’s sometime mid-December that we’ll feel comfortable letting them go to our (90% non-mask-wearing) ward again.

  17. I’m taking my 11-year-old for his vaccine next week; I get my booster shot first (in a couple days).

    My 13-year-old hates needles and threw a fit about getting his shot a few months ago. He was genuinely terrified; this wasn’t him being bratty. Shots are a really traumatic experience. I told the pharmacist my son was a needle-phobe. The pharmacist was great with him. After the shot, my son whipped his head around to stare at me. “That was it? It was lots worse in my head!” I was as happy as he was. The second shot wasn’t nearly as much drama.

    But yeah, vaccinating a scared child (or one with sensory issues) can be a huge challenge. Best wishes and I hope things work out.

  18. We’re in Michigan. My 8 year old is getting his on Tuesday. We received a fabulous email from his pediatrician outlining FAQs about children getting the vaccine. He was nervous about myocarditis after watching a news clip a few months ago. It was a good opportunity to talk about risk and what 26 cases per million meant.

  19. Awesome Tim, Melinda, and Laura! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Michinita says:

    Just got the first shot into my 3 children. When someone asked my six year old if he was “excited to get a shot” his reply was an enthusiastic “Yes!” My 11 year old, who has some anxiety around shots, asked me repeatedly to make him an appointment. The nine year old plans to move her “I’m vaccinated” sticker from outfit to outfit. It’s delightful to no longer be quite so dependent on the good behavior of others.

  21. michinita says:

    I know a child who had was was considered a mild infection with COVID in August. He still needs 18 hours of sleep per day. Long Covid is real. I am over the moon that my children got the shot before they caught the virus.

  22. I took my 11 year old to her annual checkup last month. I was pleased to see the sign (that predated the pandemic) which read, “If you’re the kind of parent who doesn’t believe in vaccines, our practice is probably not for you.” There we’re some other words about safety and science, but the headline was all you really needed to know.

  23. Geoff - Aus says:

    Stephen Hardy, I generally admire your comments but I think you may have gone over the top in your response to my comment. I was trying quantify for you the cost of the division you suffer, by extrapolating our figures to your population, on both vacinations and deaths. So you can imagine what might have been possible with different leadership. Having not had trump we are much less divided. So the cost of trump. I also understand there have been attacks on Australias handling of the Covid by fox news, which was a series of lies, and wanted to present some facts.

    I may have some of the attributes you attribute to me, but not too many I hope.

    It is good to see the enthusiasm of the other commenters here. And realise that if that enthusiasm were universal you would have vacination rates in the 90 too. But I look at 2 conservative sites to see what other members in my ward read, and find articles undermining the vaccines. We have some anti-vaxers here mostly inspired by american sites, but they are one or 2 % of the population.

  24. John Mansfield says:

    Seeing Prof. Brunson’s Saturday morning comment about deleting comments by anti-vaxxers who spread misinformation, and having had a comment of mine deleted Friday morning, I wish to write on my own behalf that I am not an anti-vaxxer, and my comment contained no misinformation. My 12-year-old daughter has received three vaccines this year. Since my wife died I have made a point of receiving the annual flu vaccine in order to avoid down time being sick. As a 55-year-old man I am at moderate risk of being harmed by COVID-19, and since I am my children’s sole living parent, I sought vaccination against that virus when it became available; I was very glad when my late wife’s aged parents received it. I am someone who likes to look at data and think about it, and the data I shared in my deleted comment came straight from the CDC; it was not misinformation in any sense, and I do not like my comments being characterized as such.

    My comments can, of course, be deleted for whatever reason suits the site management, but the reason given Saturday morning by Prof. Brunson does not validly describe why mine was deleted Friday. Thus I clarify that I am not an anti-vaxxer spreading misinformation.

  25. it's a series of tubes says:

    Geoff: remind me again, how many COVID vaccines have Australian companies developed?

  26. Not a Cougar says:

    Does anyone have any idea to what extent that this will encourage diverting vaccine doses away from vulnerable age groups in countries where access to the vaccine is limited? There are a lot of countries out there with huge vulnerable populations with very limited access. Google currently pulls from the nonprofit website Our World in Data which reports that less than 4.1% of people in low income countries have been vaccinated (and I counted at least 43 countries where vaccination rates are less than 10%). Given that children ages 5-11 do not appear to be nearly as vulnerable to death or hospitalization from the virus, are we flaunting first world privilege by trying to push the U.S. populace to vaccinate young children before much of the elderly world even gets a first dose? Should we be pushing elected leaders to redirect doses to low income countries.

  27. Not a Cougar, why can’t we do both? It seems like there’s loads of vaccine to go around. Also, the best solution to getting vaccines to developing countries is really for all the adults not yet vaccinated to go get their dose. I feel like we are holding back doses for them, not for kids getting 1/3 dose size.

    it’s a series of tubes: touché. It’s a bit frustrating being lumped into Geoff’s “all Americans suck” camp when more than half of us stayed home, didn’t get COVID, and got the shot as soon as we were eligible.

    My son turned 12 in October; he spent the weekend recovering from his second shot. My two younger kids get their first shot on Friday. We waited for a weekend appointment so our kids won’t miss school after the second does blues (we are four for four on that front in our family so far).

  28. Not a Cougar says:

    Chadwick, having perused a few news sites, it appears vaccine availability for the Third World is woefully behind the G7, despite the Covax program which per the BBC, “hopes to distribute enough vaccines to protect at least 20% of the population in 92 low- or medium-income countries – starting with healthcare workers and the most vulnerable groups.” It does not appear to be a case of “doing both” but of rich countries hogging the vaccine supply. I understand the desire to vaccinate literally everyone, but I truly think vaccinating American kids at the expense of more vulnerable middle-aged Kenyans and Armenians is a bad strategy.

  29. Not a Cougar, I’m not an expert on vaccine distribution by any means, but my understanding is that vaccines face both supply and distribution constraints in developing economies. But to be clear, U.S. kids getting vaccinated is not preventing others from getting vaccines. At this point, the vaccines are distributed and are either going into kids’ arms or will be disposed of.

  30. Not a Cougar says:

    Sam, I’m sorry, but vaccination rates for all kinds of diseases are very high in lots of third world countries (take diptheria for example – the WHO reports vaccination rates for Ethiopia in the high 90s) so I honestly don’t buy the argument that we simply can’t get COVID vaccines to those who need it if the rich world puts resources behind the effort (just as it has with other types of vaccinations). I understand that the die has already been cast and we can’t just redirect the shots that have been distributed in the U.S. for child recipients, but I think it is completely fair to call this out as a bad decision. I would also point out that vaccine manufacturers appear to be making a mint off first world customers and are also reluctant to partner with manufacturers in the global south. It’s great that American kids can get vaccinated, but we can also recognize that that comes with an opportunity cost that will largely be borne by a lot more sick and dead moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas in other countries.

  31. Not a Cougar, it’s definitely fair to be critical of policy decisions. And from what I’ve read, the Covax attempt to roll the vaccines out to developing economies has largely been a disaster.

    But it’s also worth keeping in mind that the fact that vaccination rates are high in developing countries doesn’t tell us much about Covid; for one thing, there’s the massive and pressing scale here. Most vaccines that have been around for a while only need to be distributed to ~one age cohort, so you don’t have to vaccinate all of the adults in 2021. Also, the mRNA vaccines need to be kept at significantly colder temperatures than other vaccines, which requires specialized freezers. Which is to say, it’s disastrous and inexcusable that poor countries haven’t gotten access to vaccines, but it’s also not clear that vaccinating US kids is reducing their ability to get vaccines. At this point, while we may be facing some supply constraints, I don’t think that’s the primary constraint. Political and logistical constraints strike me as the bigger problem.

    But also, getting your kid vaccinated isn’t taking the opportunity to get vaccinated away from others. And it will help stem the spread and mutation of Covid, which is absolutely a good thing.

  32. Not a Cougar says:

    Sam, agree to disagree on opportunity costs and I understand and appreciate your take on this.

  33. Thanks, Not a Cougar. Me too.

  34. I lived in India about 10 years ago. In order to move there, I had to get up to date on my vaccinations, including typhoid fever. I was so sad when one of the managers in the local India office contracted typhoid fever. He was out on sick leave for over three months, and it was very serious. I was beyond confused that I had immediate access to this vaccine in the US at a reasonable price (where typhoid isn’t much of a thing) but the local India population did not. I guess I illustrate this to say that yes, Not a Cougar, we have work to do. Covid is simply reminding us of this. Thoughts on what we can do help?

    Also, it took Australia six months longer than the US to roll out the vaccine, so it’s also not as simple as developed vs developing countries.

  35. Not a Cougar says:

    Chadwick, undoubtedly it will be more complex to roll vaccines out to developing countries, but it’s not as if no one is ever vaccinated in developing countries and that aren’t already some systems in place to accomplish that My point is that to the extent that dollars for vaccines are fungible between paying to vaccinate 5-11 year old American kids and paying to vaccinate the working adults and vulnerable seniors in a slew of low and middle-income countries, the return on investment is far higher for the low and middle-income countries. As to what to do about it, you probably need to borrow a DeLorean and some plutonium and go back to to the end of the Trump administration or the beginning of the Biden administration and advocate for vaccination of developing world adults ahead of developed world children, but I doubt anything would have changed and it’s probably far too late to advocate for any additional change. The foreign poor will continue to bear this burden long after we in the first world declare victory over COVID.

  36. Another MD says:


    I think that the clinic you took your 11 year old to is a clinic I certainly would not want my children going to nor would I want to practice in it. That kind of smarmy attitude by physicians is not the way to change minds or hearts.

    I see all comers in my adult practice. Vaccinated. Not vaccinated. Insurance. No insurance. All comers. The number of patients who do things that I don’t agree with or make decisions that are unhealthy is hard to count. But none of them are turned away. Being a physician is to treat the sick. Not to put up barriers.

    Every patient who comes into my clinic who has not had the COVID vaccine is someone I have a discussion with . I try to learn their concerns and why they have them. Many have had a change of heart because of the discussion I had with them and received the vaccine. If they don’t, that is their decision, despite my encouragement otherwise. I don’t look down my nose at them, think they are stupid, or a conspiracy theorist.

    The best way to dismantle misinformation is with information from a trusted source. Fortunately, I am that for many of my patients. (And in full disclosure, I have had COVID before the vaccines, had both of my shots, my booster, and my children are vaccinated.)

  37. My one-year-old got his first vax yesterday. We are all so happy and relieved. Can’t wait until they approve the vac for under five!!!

  38. *nine-year-old

  39. Congratulations Amy!!!!

  40. @Another MD — Thank you for the healthy and respectful treatment of people. So often people (Ahem…Geoff) want to force others to bend to their dictates because it is morally right. It is so much better if we convince them with love and information. Rather than demonizing, we can listen and respond. Your ability to change minds is testament to that. Keep up the good work!

  41. My ten, nine, six, and five year old’s were able to get their first Covid-19 vaccine shot yesterday. They even gave the kids a nice certificate.
    A few days ago the six year old was able to get this years flu shot. We’re still trying to find a pediatric flu shots for the other three.

  42. jader3rd, congratulations! That is so exciting!

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