My short answer is no. The data indicate that the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 infection among children within the 5 to 11 age group and there is no need to wait. The COVID-19 vaccines work to help us all protect ourselves and others against significant COVID-19 illness and moves us along in our collective goal to put this pandemic to an end.
And here’s my longer answer. Pfizer-BioNTech reported 90.7 percent effectiveness of their vaccine in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 without any serious side effects. These results were part of a trial of about 4,500 children within the 5 to 11 age range, a study sample appropriately sized and selected to achieve statistical power. Of note, more than 1.9 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in this age group; more than 8,300 of those cases have required hospitalization, and there have been 94 deaths. Side effects of the vaccine in this group are mild, and mostly include soreness at the site of infection, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. (Interestingly, I’ve found that many parents are reporting that their children had zero side effects.) The various advisory committees to both the FDA and the CDC unanimously voted to approve the emergency use authorization of this vaccine, noting that the benefits of children receiving the vaccine greatly outweigh any potential risks. This is especially true for children with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions, although it should be noted that about 30 percent of those children hospitalized with COVID-19 had no past medical history.
As we move into winter and colder weather and activities shift indoors, the exposure risk increases, so getting children fully vaccinated as soon as possible will help keep them safe.