KEY POINTS

  • Experts believe children will have less severe side effects
  • Children could be at lesser risk of developing myocarditis following the Pfizer shot, say experts
  • Younger children are also less likely to experience fever and chills

The U.S. could soon authorize a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech for children younger than 12, prompting concerns about potential side effects.

For children aged 5 to 11, two shots will be given on the same schedule as the vaccine for adolescents and adults. However, the drugmaker has requested emergency use authorization for a 10-microgram dose, a third of the size of the doses given to individuals aged 12 and older. 

But despite the smaller dosage, younger children will likely experience the same side effects as teens and adults. However, the lower dosage may also lead to less severe symptoms, including pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches. Younger children are also less likely to experience fever and chills, according to CNBC.

The Pfizer shot has been linked to an extremely rare side effect called myocarditis, which causes heart inflammation in adults under 30. However, according to the Food and Drug Administration, it hasn’t seen an uptick in myocarditis cases among children aged 12 to 17, leading experts to believe the risk could potentially be even lower for kids under 12. 

As of Oct. 6, health officials reported 877 cases of myocarditis in people under the age of 30 who received either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines. 

The agency also said it has yet to find evidence that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines could cause Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a potentially deadly complication seen in some kids who were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. 

The COVID-related symptom causes inflammation of a person’s body parts, including the heart, lungs and eyes. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,217 children who tested positive for COVID-19 developed MIS-C, 46 of them died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It is still unclear what causes MIS-C. Officials are now working to identify a possible link between the deadly symptoms to COVID-19 infections. 

At least 28 million children under the age of 12 could become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine shots in November after the vaccine receives emergency use authorization from both the FDA and the CDC.

This file photo taken on March 04, 2021 shows vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 amid the coronavirus pandemic in Panama City This file photo taken on March 04, 2021 shows vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 amid the coronavirus pandemic in Panama City Photo: AFP / Luis ACOSTA