It’s happening! On October 29, 2021 Pfizer and BioNTech received the Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for their COVID-19 vaccine in 5-11 year olds and the CDC Director has confirmed its use. Shipments of the vaccine have begun heading out to vaccination sites across the country while parents, pediatricians, pharmacists and others are getting prepared to vaccinate our youngest Americans. This authorization will save lives, protect our children and bring us closer to ending this pandemic.
While this is a major milestone in our vaccine equity work, only a little over ¼ of parents indicated they would vaccinate their kids 5-11 “right away.” As of November 15th, over 1.5 million children under age 12 have received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
We need all hands on deck to ensure that that we #ProtectOurKids, our communities, and get our youth vaccinated.
- Storytelling and Elevating Trusted Messengers: We know that some of the most trusted messengers are folks’ personal doctors and other health professionals. We should prioritize collecting and elevating stories from doctors who are parents/guardians.
- Answering Parents and Guardians Questions: We need to create as many spaces as possible for parents and guardians to ask any and all questions they have about the vaccine for their children while explaining the rigorousness of the process and addressing any safety or health concerns.
- Ensuring Equitable Access: Access continues to be a barrier for many people of color to get vaccinated and that will be even starker with the 5-11 vaccine rollout. We must continue to break down these barriers by ensuring that folks can easily access appointments near them at locations and with providers they trust.
This document will provide you with up-to-date information about parent attitudes towards vaccinating their children, key messaging to incorporate into your outreach and audience specific 1-pagers that you can share with your networks with the info they need to take action.
Table of Contents
Individual “What Now” 1-pagers:
A little over ¼ of parents indicated they would vaccinate their kids 5-11 “right way”, a dip over the last month as the increase in COVID-19 cases has slowed (Kaiser Family Foundation, October 2021). Though half of teens have already received COVID-19 vaccines, three in ten parents (of both 5-11 and 12-17 year olds) have reported they will “definitely not” vaccinate their children. Recent research has provided some insight into parent and guardian concerns and groups that may be more or less hesitant about vaccinating their children, which we will outline below:
Parents have expressed concerns about potential long-term side effects for children.
Top concerns that parents of children aged 5-11 have about the vaccines are unknown long-term side effects, serious side effects from the vaccine, the child’s fertility in the future, and being forced to get the vaccine (Kaiser Family Foundation, October 2021).
Vaccinated parents have higher intentions of vaccinating their children.
Vaccinated parents are 6x more likely than unvaccinated parents to have gotten their children ages 12-17 vaccinated (de Beaumont, August 2021).
Black and Hispanic parents have more concerns about vaccinating their children than White parents.
Black and Hispanic parents are more likely to have concerns about side effects of the vaccine and future fertility than White parents. Black and Hispanic respondents are more likely to have concerns about their individual accessibility to the vaccine (e.g., time off work, traveling to get vaccine, out of pocket cost, trustworthiness of vaccination site) (Kaiser Family Foundation, August 2021).
Getting parents on the same page about vaccinating their children is key.
Mothers may be more skeptical of vaccines than fathers: 27% of mothers say they are extremely unlikely to vaccinate their children versus 14% of fathers (COVID States Project, March 2021, Pre-Print available). Children of divorced parents with contrasting COVID-19 vaccine beliefs are less likely to get vaccinated (Web MD, July 2021).
You can find additional information on parents’ attitudes toward vaccinating their kids, as well as messaging and outreach recommendations, compiled by the Made to Save research team here and additional data from Made to Save and the de Beaumont Foundation here in this tip sheet.
The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to keep your child safe
- After rigorous testing and review, the FDA has authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5-11 and the CDC has recommended its use. Based on the overwhelming results of the trial, the FDA and CDC have declared that the vaccine is safe and effective.
- COVID-19 is one of the top ten causes of death among children. Millions of children have been infected, and hundreds have died. The COVID-19 vaccine protects children from getting sick, being hospitalized, or experiencing long-term effects of COVID-19.
- To date, after hundreds of millions of doses given to adults and teenagers, the Pfizer vaccine has shown no cases of long-term side effects. We know it’s safe and effective for adults – and we can take comfort knowing it will be for kids, too. Source: CDC
- We urge all parents of 5-11 year olds to call their pediatrician, family doctor, local clinic or head to Vaccines.gov (which will be updated by end of week) to vaccinate their children.
This gets us and our communities on the path towards normalcy
- Having your child vaccinated will protect family members and friends from potentially catching COVID-19, especially those who may be at high risk.
- Being vaccinated will help kids be kids. It will enable them to safely do more of the activities they enjoy, like attending birthday parties, playing sports, and spending time indoors with friends and family members.
Parents will be able to send their children back to school with peace of mind and less fear of quarantines and outbreaks
- Because of the highly contagious Delta variant and limited safety protocols in some regions, schools across the country have had to shut down due to an influx of COVID-19 cases. This chaos is harming their academic opportunity and social and emotional learning, as closures threaten our kids’ ongoing learning and development.
- This authorization and kids getting vaccinated means fewer outbreaks and more in-person learning.
- Without these types of COVID-19 related disruptions, students will be able to return to their school routine and parents will have less uncertainty of unexpectedly needing childcare when kids are quarantined.
- Keeping students, teachers, and staff safe at school should be one of our top priorities.
Students of color have suffered the most due to COVID, including losing parents and caregivers
- Students of color have been significantly harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous studies conducted this past year have shown the widening disparities in academic performance among Black, Latinx, and American Indian/Alaska Native students as compared to their white peers.
- Children of color have been more affected by COVID-19 associated death of a primary caregiver compared to white children. Children of racial and ethnic minorities were twice as likely as white children to experience the death of a caregiver due to COVID-19.
- Getting children of color vaccinated is the best way to protect them from COVID-19, ensure they can stay in school, and let them get back to the moments and people that they love.
How and where do I get my child vaccinated?
The vaccine will be available at many pediatrician and family practice clinics, local health departments, community health centers, pharmacies, school-based health centers, and other places where kids usually go for their vaccines. Some schools may also have vaccines available for families. We encourage everyone to remain patient as providers set up systems to handle the influx of interest. Check with your usual medical provider, Vaccines.gov, or local health department to see where you can go.
What’s the difference between vaccines for children versus adults?
The vaccine for children ages 5-11 is one third of the dose given to teenagers and adults. The dose was chosen to balance safety and effectiveness for the immune system of a child ages 5 to 11. Of note, the vaccine is not dosed by weight, but by the age of the immune system. Source: CDC
Do the benefits of vaccinating my child outweigh the risks?
Yes. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends the COVID-19 for all children five and up who don’t have severe allergic reactions to vaccines. In the case of very rare instances of heart inflammation, known as myocarditis, an independent panel of doctors and scientists carefully reviewed the data and agreed that the risks are far lower than the risks posed by contracting COVID-19 in children. They similarly agreed that the overall risk of contracting COVID-19 is bigger than any potential side-effect from the vaccine. Source
Approximately how many children (0-18 years old) in the United States have gotten COVID-19?
According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker (as of Oct. 7), children ages 5-11 account for over a million cases (5% of all COVID-19 cases) and 136 deaths. Since the pandemic began, children represented 16% of total cases. That percentage is increasing as more adults get vaccinated. For the week ending September 30, children were 27% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases (children, under age 18, make up 22% of the US population). Source
What are the long term effects of the vaccine on children? How can we be sure that the vaccine is safe?
Just as with other vaccines, this vaccine is expected to have short-term side effects like a sore arm and fever. The vaccine is gone from your system within days. In the history of vaccines, reactions typically show up within a few weeks after the shot. We have not seen long-term side effects after nearly a year of giving the vaccine to hundreds of millions of adults, and we do not expect to see long-term effects in kids besides being protected against COVID-19. Additionally, medical researchers are constantly monitoring to make sure they catch and can tell the public about even very rare side effects. Source
Will the COVID-19 vaccine affect my child’s fertility?
No. There is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (fertility specialists) both strongly recommend that people get the COVID-19 vaccine. Source
Do I need to be present when my child is vaccinated?
It depends. States differ in their consent requirements for minors. Many require parental consent, with some additionally requiring a parent or adult to be present. A database of state parental consent laws has been compiled by Kaiser Family Foundation.
Can my kid get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other shots?
Yes! According to the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics, routine childhood immunizations and flu shots can be safely given at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine. Source: CDC
Made to Save & Public Health Communications Collaborative Tipsheet: Talking to Parents about the COVID-19 Vaccines for Children. New data and research shows that many parents are still undecided about vaccinating their children, but are motivated by messages about health and community. Learn more here.
American Academy of Pediatrics Children and COVID State-Level Report: Updated weekly, this resource provides updated case, hospitalization, and mortality rates for children. Occasionally, it is also broken down by region.
CDC COVID Data Tracker: This resource reports trends in COVID-19 cases by age group. It breaks down children in 0-5, 5-11, and 12-17 age groups.
Kaiser Family Foundation Vaccine Monitor: Updated monthly, this resource provides nationally representative public opinion on vaccine-related issues, including those specific to parents and children.
- Vaccine Roll Out Considerations: This resource discusses some of the additional considerations that come into play with distributing the vaccine to children under 12.
- State Consent Laws: This resource helps identify consent requirements for vaccinating minors for each state.
- Parents and the Pandemic: A resource specific to the concerns of parents.
Made to Save Peer to Peer SMS A/B Test—School-based vaccinations: Get more info about our texting scripts and attempts to better understand parent & caregiver attitudes toward vaccinating their children at school, alongside recommendations for persuasion or mobilization-based campaigns.
The information in these pages has been aggregated from the CDC and other trusted medical resources and is not medical advice. If you have additional questions we encourage you to speak to a medical provider. This information was last updated November 4, 2021.
Now that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 5-11 years old, you may be excited or apprehensive or still have questions about the vaccine. Any way you’re feeling is okay.
What you need to know
COVID-19 is one of the top ten causes of death among children. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect your child from getting sick, being hospitalized, or developing long-term symptoms.
Having your child vaccinated will protect family members and friends, especially those who may be at high risk. It will also keep schools safer so there are fewer disruptions in learning.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for children only after rigorous testing and data that overwhelmingly demonstrated its safety and effectiveness. Additionally, the same Pfizer vaccine (in a slightly higher dosage) has been administered to hundreds of millions of people worldwide (aged 12+) and has been shown to be very effective against severe disease, hospitalization and death. During the Delta surge, areas with higher vaccination rates saw fewer deaths from COVID.
The data is clear, vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and how we #ProtectOurKids.
- Get your child vaccinated – Make a plan by calling your pediatrician, family doctor or going to vaccines.gov to find an appointment near you.
- You can also ask questions at a live Q&A town hall on November 15 at 8-9pm ET hosted by Doctors for America in partnership with Made to Save.
- Submit your story through our Soapboxx campaign and spread the word online using our digital toolkit.
The Conversation about the COVID Vaccine & Kids presented by We>COVID
Here’s a helpful checklist by the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Getting Your Child Ready for the COVID-19 Vaccine”/“Prepare a su hijo para recibir la vacuna contra el COVID-19”
Now that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 5-11 years old, parents are going to have a lot of questions: Where can they get their child vaccinated? Why should I get my child vaccinated? I heard something scary on the internet about children and Covid-19 vaccines, is it true? You are a trusted messenger in your community and can be there to help parents feel more comfortable and ensure they have access to get their child vaccinated.
What you need to know
For parents who want to get their child vaccinated, the rollout may be slow and not all pediatricians will have the vaccine in their offices. Finding out where vaccines are available for this age group will help you guide parents. Also, helping to set up vaccination clinics in your community (preferably within school systems where children are already) will help to ensure equitable access.
For parents who aren’t yet sure if they want to vaccinate their children, providing access to accurate information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine can help parents overcome any fears about this particular vaccine. Share how important vaccination is for community protection and going back to normal life (no more disruptions of in-school learning, children going back to regular activities).
Prioritize storytelling, answering questions and ensuring equity in vaccine information sharing and access to the vaccine.
- Host information sessions and/or vaccine events serving 5-11 (here)
- Incorporate effective messaging into your outreach
- Attend our “Talking to Parents and Guardians about the COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids” training on November 16th from 7-8pm EST
Vaccinating Children Ages 5-11, Policy considerations from KFF
The Science Behind the COVID-19 Vaccines (American Academy of Pediatrics)
The Conversation About COVID-19 Vaccines and Kids – videos of pediatricians answering frequently asked questions (AAP and Kaiser Family Foundation)
Now that the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is available for children 5-11 years old, your school can help ensure that all eligible children get vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them. Schools are trusted messengers and should provide accurate information about the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines to parents and caregivers. Go a step further by hosting a vaccination clinic at your school to ensure equitable access to your students and families.
What you need to know
Vaccine conversations can be difficult and in some places controversial, but the evidence is clear, the only way out of the pandemic is by ensuring a large proportion of the community is vaccinated to avoid the spread of disease. Until this happens, school and life will continue to be interrupted by this preventable illness.
Share with parents and caregivers that vaccination is the way to avoid school closures in the future by protecting kids, families and others in the community by stopping COVID-19 spread. Survey families to get a better sense of what information is needed most to feel comfortable vaccinating children ages 5-11 and then connect with community based organizations or healthcare professionals to help answer those questions.
- Join MTS school pilots partners group – Register to join on December 2, 2021
- Request a health professional through Doctors For America to present the facts to your school community and answer questions.
- Consider partnering with a local clinic or health department to offer school located vaccination
- Post on school social media channels to raise awareness using these graphics from the US Department of Health and Human Services
Covid-19 Vaccination for Children Under 12: How schools can prepare to be vaccination sites
What you need to know
Many parents have questions about the new COVID-19 vaccine for kids. Their physicians, nurses, hospitals, and local health organizations remain among the most trusted sources of information. Yet parents from communities of color and low income communities may not have access to trusted health professionals to get their questions answered. They may also have reasons for distrusting the healthcare system. Because fewer locations will be providing shots for younger children, access will be a challenge for families that do not have transportation or the ability to take paid time off. Reaching out to support these communities will be essential.
Take Action – Pediatric Vaccine Providers
- Sign up with your state immunization program to provide COVID-19 vaccines.
- List your location on vaccines.gov to provide shots to children who do not have a medical home. Consider offering extended hours on weekends or evenings.
- Download resources from HHS’s WeCanDoThis to make a vaccine site fun.
- Use this checklist from the National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM) to make your vaccine site friendly for those communities.
- Order free stickers and buttons in English and Spanish from Immunize.org through 2021.
- Consider offering to work with local elementary schools on school-located vaccines.
Take Action – All Health Professionals
- Share information on the vaccines with patients and your community:
- The Science Behind the COVID-19 Vaccines (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- The Conversation About COVID-19 Vaccines and Kids – videos of pediatricians answering frequently asked questions (AAP and Kaiser Family Foundation)
- Vaccines for Children and Youth – fact sheets in 40 languages (NRC-RIM)
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens (CDC)
- Learn how to have more effective vaccine conversations and get up to 1.0 CME credits (An Approach to Patients Who Have Not Gotten the COVID-19 Vaccine)
- Offer to be a medical expert for a question and answer session for a local school or other organizations that serve families. Sign up for Doctors for America’s Vaccine Expert Corps to be a trusted medical professional for community organizations.
If you are a parent or caregiver of a 5-11 year old, use Made to Save’s easy Soapboxx tool to make a video to share online on what this vaccine means for your family.