Newshub headline with Children's Wisconsin logo
When will my child be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine? Children's Wisconsin

When will my young child be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The short answer: Hopefully, kids younger than 5 years old will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine this summer.

We know the news around the COVID-19 vaccine for kids can be confusing. Here’s a breakdown of what we know, what’s been announced and what’s to come.

What we already know

Thankfully, many kids can currently be protected from COVID-19 with a vaccine, helping not only them, but also those around them. Continued study of the vaccines has shown that they are extremely safe and effective in preventing severe illness, and if infection does occur, the vaccinated person has such a low viral load that they have a much lower chance of spreading the disease. Additionally, especially in kids, serious side-effects of the vaccine have been extremely rare.

Kids 5 years old and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Kids who are 5 to 11 years old should receive two doses of the vaccine, given three weeks apart. A booster of the vaccine is recommended for this age group at least five months after the second dose.

  • Kids 12 to 17 years old should receive two doses of the vaccine, given three to eight weeks apart. A booster of the vaccine is recommended for this age group at least five months after the second dose.

What’s the latest

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new meeting dates that will push the process forward.

  • On June 14, the FDA and its advisory committee of external experts (also known as the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) will meet to discuss Moderna’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) request for anyone 6 through 17 years old. 
  • On June 15, the FDA and its advisory committee will meet to discuss the Moderna EUA request for anyone 6 months through 5 years old and Pfizer-BioNTech EUA request for 6 months through 4 years old, based on expected completion of an EUA submission.

What’s to come

A lot of steps need to be completed in order to have the vaccine approved, so if the latest updates seem confusing, just follow along with these steps. 

  • Step 1. Manufacturer (like Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) asks FDA for approval to expand use.

  • Step 2. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will vote on the request.

  • Step 3. If approved, the FDA Commissioner evaluates the committee’s recommendation and will approve or deny it.

  • Step 4. If approved, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet and vote on approval.

  • Step 5. If approved, the head of the CDC will give final approval or denial.

  • Step 6. If approved, the vaccine is made available to the public.

What to do while we wait

More than 5 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States since the start of 2022. While it’s true that kids typically experience less severe symptoms than adults, some children get very sick and require hospitalization or need to be placed on a ventilator to help them breathe. We also know that some children have developed a rare, but serious, inflammatory condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C as a result of COVID-19.

If you have a child 5 years of age or older, definitely get them vaccinated because that will help protect younger siblings and other family members who may be unable to get the vaccine.

Continue to have kids wash their hands often, watch their distance from others who you don’t know, and consider wearing a mask in public settings.

Every family has its own risk tolerance. If your family includes vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, decide on your risk tolerance for your entire family unit. Where you’re going, how many people will be there, how much time you’ll spend there, and the vaccination status of attendees are factors to take into consideration.

When kids younger than 5 are eligible for the vaccine, it’s important to vaccinate them for their protection, to help protect your family, and to help stop community spread. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic and get back to the things we (and our kids) love.

We encourage you to speak with your child’s pediatrician if you have specific questions or concerns about your child or unique family situation.

For more information from Children’s Wisconsin about COVID-19, visit our NewsHub and choose the COVID-19 category.