Vaccinations for children ages 5-11 available starting Friday at Mayo

Published 12:03 pm Thursday, November 4, 2021

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Mayo Clinic is preparing to vaccinate children 5-11 for COVID-19, with vaccinations to begin Friday. The health system is recommending all children within the age range be vaccinated.

The message comes after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11. 

Dr. Robert Jacobson, pediatrician and vaccine researcher with Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also voted unanimously to recommend all children 5-11 receive the vaccine. 

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In clinical trials, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was at least 91% effective in children 5‒11, according to a Mayo Clinic press release. Jacobson said the vaccine was tested in this age group with the same care and attention as vaccine testing for older age groups, and compared the vaccine with placebo injections in children across the age. Researchers examined everything in reaction, including things such as headaches, body aches, illness or injury the children developed in two months of the second dose. 

 The COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is one-third of the adolescent and adult dose and is administered in a two-dose series, three weeks apart.

Jacobson said children receiving the dosage have reached the same antibody levels that adults and adolescents have received. 

The vaccine is carefully monitored in both its manufacturing and delivery, he said. 

“It’s the safest vaccine we’ve ever delivered in the United States,” he said. 

Parents and legal guardians can prepare for their children’s vaccination by reviewing tips for what to do before, during and after vaccination on the CDC website. They should talk to their children before the visit about what to expect and comfort their children during the appointment.

Teach them that the vaccine teaches the body to defend against COVID-19 and the harm it can cause, Jacobson said. He also encouraged parents to set an example to their child by sharing their own experience and staying up-to-date on vaccinations. 

They should also prepare the children for possible side effects, which are normal signs that their body is responding to the vaccine. 

Children who receive the vaccine could have reactions such as soreness and redness at the injection site, swelling, some headache, body aches and, in some cases, fever, Jacobson said. 

He advised against providing pain relievers to children before they are vaccinated, as they may blunt the children’s response to the vaccine. If side effects do occur, however, people can use Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. He said ice packs can also take away pain, as does taking a nap. He said rubbing or massaging the injection site can worsen the pain. 

Children should also eat a good meal or snack, and drink plenty of water before being vaccinated for COVID-19. 


Scheduling appointments

Eligible patients in the 5-11 age range for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Health System have been identified and will be contacted through Patient Online Services, or by mail, and be invited to schedule an appointment.

Parents and legal guardians can schedule their children’s appointments to be vaccinated against COVID-19 using their children’s Patient Online Services caregiver account or the Mayo Clinic App. If they don’t have a caregiver account for their child, they should call Mayo Clinic Customer Assistance at 877-858-0398.

Parents and legal guardians also can call the Mayo Clinic location nearest to them to schedule their children’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment:

For Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna or Red Wing, people can call 507-434-9929.

Children must be accompanied by the parent or legal guardian when they come for their vaccination appointment. Parents and legal guardians should tell their health care providers about any allergies children may have before being vaccinated.

Parents and legal guardians should not schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments if their children are in isolation due to a COVID-19 infection or in quarantine from a recent COVID-19 exposure. The children should undergo vaccination when they are no longer in isolation or quarantine. Vaccination should be delayed by 90 days for their children who received monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma or were given the diagnosis of COVID-19 — associated multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

“We know that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and safe for preventing potential future complications that we are seeing in some kids who have gotten infected,” said Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, pediatric infectious diseases physician at Mayo Clinic’s Children Center. “For example, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, which is a rare but potentially life-threatening phenomenon, seems to happen in young people who get COVID-19 infection. Currently, there’s no way to prevent that complication, except to prevent the initial COVID-19 infection itself.”

Parents and legal guardians are reminded that if their children are 11 when they receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine but will turn 12 when they receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine recommended three weeks later, the children will receive the age-appropriate vaccine formulation regardless of their size or weight — the 12-year-old would receive the adult dosage.

Jacobson said trials are underway by both Moderna and Pfizer for children ages 6 months through 4 years of age. He estimates it will only be a matter of months before the vaccine for that age group is available.